The Problem with Online Physician Reviews

You wouldn’t simply make reservations at a restaurant without first checking their reviews online would you? Then why should we expect that our patients don’t do checkups on us before they schedule their checkups? But, that’s the problem. Healthcare providers are not a restaurant.

Patients shouldn’t be treating physician review sites like they do for when they complain about their chewey steak or rude service at their local Applebee’s. Factors that are outside of a physician’s control such as unexpected wait times due to emergencies, an irrationally upset family member taking their frustrations out on an unrelated outlet, and that happy or content patients are less likely to go on a rant online are why these “Yelp for doctors” sites are not a reputable source for evaluating the quality of a clinician.

physician-review-sites-and-your-reputationA Brief History of Online Physician Review

Sites like,,, etc. have been derived from databases. This means that much of the information used could be wrong or outdated. Things that people were rating were things like communication skills, accessibility, and overall ratings. Unfortunately some factors may be reflecting poorly on physicians that not are in their control. Things such as the cleanliness of an office and the professionalism/friendliness of coworkers are reflected in reviews as well.

Well, we better get used to it. It’s only getting increasingly common for health systems to allow patients to post reviews about how they were treated in their facilities. The move is making hospitals gain trust with more transparency and diverting attention from other review sources buzzing around the web.

The rating systems have been in place since July 31st of this year for Intermountain Healthcare, a nonprofit system that has 22 hospitals and185 clinics, have been using a new process in which they are motivated to get patients to review the actions of the physicians and not the hospital.

Patient satisfaction is the primary focus of these initiatives, but the health system wants to ensure that these reviews are fair for once. To do this, they will automatically post positive reviews but will wait to approve the negative feedback. This way, no vulgar language or private patient info will get released.

Existing sites such as Healthgrades do not allow the same control to be used and therefore there is no control about who is posting, if its legitimate, and you can’t specifically ask the questions you want. Negatively, there’s a greater likelihood for an angry patient to write a negative comment about a physician’s performance than to write one of praise. So therefore, when people start investigating medical practice professionals, they will glance past a sea of Negative Nancy’s and not Praising Polly’s.

The Future of Physician Reviews

Baby boomers may not be rushing to their devices to tweet about a doctor’s visit. However, millennials are all up on it. In fact, that age bracket is 60% more likely to head to social media to put their healthcare providers on blast according to a survey conducted by Nuance Communications. Additionally, the consumers in the under 32 age-group are about 54% more likely than those baby boomers to search the web for healthcare information before heading into a visit. They use it oftentimes to scope out the best options for their parents and grandparents.

How do you feel about online ratings for healthcare providers?



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