Few patients check online doctor ratings

January 9, 2009

Despite the proliferation of health-plan-sponsored online physician quality rating systems, two recent studies suggest few potential patients are checking the internet to choose their next doctor.

Despite the proliferation of health-plan-sponsored online physician quality rating systems, as well as consumer review websites, two recent studies suggest few potential patients are checking the internet to choose their next doctor and still rely on word of mouth to make that choice.

The Henry J. Kaiser Foundation released results of a survey of 1,517 Americans in October that showed only 6 percent had seen and used online information comparing doctor quality (specifically surgeons) when choosing a physician. Likewise, a study released in December by the Center for Studying Health System Change indicated that half of the 5,800 consumers it surveyed relied on word-of-mouth recommendations when choosing a primary care physician.

Use of online information for choosing a new physician ranged from 3 percent for consumers undergoing procedures to 7 percent for consumers choosing new specialists to 11 percent for consumers choosing new primary care physicians. To learn more about physician ratings, go to http://www.memag.com/ratings.