Online reviews have become very important as consumers make choices about products and services. In fact, 92% of consumers read online reviews, compared to 88% in 2014. And online reviews are important to almost 60% of patients when they are looking for a doctor. However, in a recent study published in JAMA, physician-rating sites were found to be limited in scope and usefulness.
The study looked at 28 physician review sites that were not payer-affiliated, provider-affiliated or specialty-specific. Six hundred physicians from Boston, Dallas and Portland, OR were included. About one-third of the physicians were not reviewed on any of the sites. Physicians who received a rating on at least one of the 28 sites got a median of seven reviews across all the sites. Among the 28 sites, there were just over 8,100 quantitative reviews of physicians, but only 22% of those reviews included comments about the physicians.
Of the 28 sites reviewed, the sites with the most median reviews per physician were healthgrades.com and vitals.com. The most common physician specialty reviewed was internal medicine, followed by pediatrics. Dermatology was the least reviewed specialty on the sites.
The study’s authors concluded that current commercial physician-rating website have limitations which can be cumbersome to the consumer. Such limitations include inability to search physicians by language spoken (only 11% of the sites looked at in the study allowed for this) and inability to search physicians by sex (only 14% of sites allowed for it). The study’s authors also believe that since the commercial physician-rating sites are lacking in reviews of physicians, other review systems may become the preferred source for consumers seeking information about physicians.