Physician rating sites shouldn’t worry doctors

Physician rating sites have caused some consternation among doctors.

I wrote about it last year, pointing to a Slate piece which demonstrated their lack of rigor and reliability.

Besides, there was a suspicion that doctors’ negative reviews are overblown, and could be easily outweighed by a physician encouraging patients to post positive ones.

Now, there’s some data showing that to be the case.

Tara Lagu, a physician at the Tufts University School of Medicine, published a study showing that doctors have little to worry about. Despite its publicity, patients don’t seem that interested in rating their doctors, and those that do, mostly post positive comments:

[The study] examined 33 physician rating sites that contained 190 reviews for 81 doctors. They found 88% of the reviews were positive, 6% negative and 6% neutral. General practitioners and specialists did not differ in the types of reviews they received.

Patients just don’t appear too interested in providing feedback on their doctors, the authors noted, despite the fact that consumers generally love and use ratings systems. In contrast to the scarcity of doctor reviews, a search of restaurants in Boston’s Beacon Hill area “turned up 38 narrative reviews for a single Lebanese restaurant,” the authors pointed out.

Most of these sites are not reviewed carefully and are prone to manipulation. But, as I mentioned previously, that can work both ways. Encouraging satisfied patients to post positive reviews about you and your practice should easily drown out the occasional dissenting comment.

By the way, thanks to Dr. Lagu for referencing KevinMD.com in her article.

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