Healthcare News & Insights

Are online physician ratings too positive?

No surprise here: People who post reviews online tend to exaggerate their opinions, and the same goes for patients’ reviews of doctors, according to a recent study. But are they exaggerating their positive experiences, as well as negative ones? 

While you might think it’s the patients with particularly negative experiences who are most likely to go online and voice their opinions, the opposite is actually true, at least according to one recent research paper.

The paper was presented at a conference sponsored by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences in Montreal, Quebec.

The authors looked at the ratings for doctors on websites such as Angie’s List, Yelp.com, Vitals.com, Healthgrades.com and RateMDs.com, and compared them to ratings in offline surveys.

The results: Overall, doctors with negative ratings in offline surveys were less likely to rated online than those with positive offline reviews.

In other words, the common belief that people only post an online review when they have something negative to say may not be true when it comes to physician ratings.

The study did confirm other conventional wisdom about online reviews — namely, that online reviewers exaggerate and aren’t likely to say anything when they have neutral opinions.

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