Physician Rating Sites: Probably Can’t Beat Them, But Do We Have to Join Them?

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Physician Rating Sites: Probably Can’t Beat Them, But Do We Have to Join Them?

The vast amount of information available online affects consumer trends for nearly any type of goods or services one can think of. Before committing to buying a product or even making a restaurant reservation, most of us will look at reviews beyond a recommendation from a friend.

What about our patients? How do they use this information to help make decisions? In recent years reliance on independent physician rating sites has steadily increased, with roughly 30-50% of patients reporting their use. Health system experience surveys have been collected prior to these sites’ popularization, but the results have not always been easily accessible to patients, and patients have reported that they are less likely to trust the accuracy of health system surveys when compared to independent sites. Commercial websites (such as Healthgrades, Vitals and Yelp) report numerical ratings as well as free text narrative comments, however, this crowd-sourced data may be flawed in that patients who choose to post reviews may be biased, and not representative of the entire patient population.

There is an undeniable increase in consumer demand for information about physicians online, and a healthy online presence is essential to a successful practice (for example, good reviews can bring in out-of-network patients). Recommended strategies to optimize your practice’s online presence include being aware of the information that is available when you are searched for online. Below are a few tips to help you stay ahead of the game:

  • Maintain your own website – Search engine optimization is key in directing users to the most accurate information.
  • Protect your information – Be careful when creating profiles and releasing your information to independent sites, as they are looking to increase their website traffic and monetize your data to sell ads.
  • Dilute negative reviews by encouraging positive ones. Report false and offensive reviews.
  • Reflect on all patient feedback – At times, being open to changes may prove helpful for your practice.

We want our patients to be able to consider accurate information when choosing a physician, in order for us to provide the best possible care.

David H. Chafey, MD
[email protected]

Holliday, AM, et al. (2017). Physician and Patient Views on Public Physician Rating Websites: A Cross-Sectional Study. J Gen Intern Med. 2017;32(6):626-631.
Lagu, T, et al. Website Characteristics and Physician Reviews on Commercial Physician-Rating Websites. JAMA. 2017;317(7):766-768.


DISCLAIMER: Statements of fact and opinion are the responsibility of the authors alone and do not imply an opinion or endorsement on the part of the officers or the members of WOA unless such opinion or endorsement is specifically stated. Materials may be reproduced only if Touches and the Western Orthopaedic Association are credited.


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