How to Take Control of Physician Reviews

by Sara Foster | Apr 13, 2017

Vitals, Health Grades, Yelp, Angie’s List and the RateMDs of the world are dominating how patients view their doctors.

Is that fair?

Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, part of Ascension, doesn’t think so. That’s why, in addition to offering physician videos, they also later included room for physician star ratings and patient comments, calculated and populated directly from patient satisfaction surveys.

“Consumers really have no way of knowing if a person who’s rating a physician on a third-party rating site actually saw that provider,” Jaimie Somlai, senior director of digital marketing for Ascension Wisconsin, says. “We had one doctor who had two reviews on a third-party rating site, but 200 on ours. Offering a significant amount of data that is based on actual patient interactions helps consumers make a more informed decision.”

At first, physicians at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare were worried about putting comments and ratings on their profiles, but the marketing department showed them that with sample data, most physicians were ranked a 4.5 or higher. This helped allay their fears.

“In addition, we set criteria,” Somlai says. “No comments could contain PHI, be libelous, slanderous or malicious.”

University of Utah Healthcare was the first system in the country to publish reviews. It saw an immediate spike of website traffic.

“In March 2014, page views to University of Utah Health Care physician profiles totaled 122,072 — a dramatic increase from the 32,144 page reviews tallied before the system’s effort to publish online physician reviews and comments had been fully adopted,” says Thomas Miller, M.D., chief medical officer at University of Utah Health Care. “The surge in web traffic is a strong indicator that patients and consumers appreciate the transparency and additional information that online reviews can bring.”

Piedmont Healthcare soon followed. More than 80,000 comments have been posted about Piedmont physicians.

“While no patient name or information is revealed due to privacy laws, consumers can be confident the information provided in the reviews came from actual patients,” Kevin Brown, CEO of Piedmont Healthcare says. “Once a physician earns 30 or more reviews, they are posted on the website, regardless of whether they are positive or negative.”

Somlai says her team was inspired by the University of Utah Health Care and Piedmont Healthcare to do the same thing. Ultimately, she said these reviews allow patients to make the best decision possible when it comes to their care.

“As consumers are spending more out of their own pocket with high deductible plans, they’re demanding more value for their dollar,” Somlai says. “That’s why we decided to post patient reviews in addition to a physician video, so the patient can really make an informed decision.”
  • physician ratings
  • physician profiles
  • HealthCare Digital Marketing

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