Few Patients Use Online Doctor Ratings

Online physician ratings…Consumer advocates push them, doctors don’t like them, and it turns out that most patients ignore them. A recent Harris Interactive poll commissioned by the California Healthcare Foundation shows that fewer than one-fourth of consumers look at online doctor ratings and only a tiny fraction—about 2%—have changed doctors based on knowledge they gained from a ratings site. The poll also showed that online ratings make little difference in consumer choices about hospitals and health insurance plans.

Online physician ratings…Consumer advocates push them, doctors don’t like them, and it turns out that most patients ignore them. A recent Harris Interactive poll commissioned by the California Healthcare Foundation shows that fewer than one-fourth of consumers look at online doctor ratings and only a tiny fraction—about 2%—have changed doctors based on knowledge they gained from a ratings site. The poll also showed that online ratings make little difference in consumer choices about hospitals and health insurance plans.

That doesn’t mean, however, that doctors can get complacent about these ratings sites. Even though very few patients change doctors because of facts gleaned from ratings sites, that number has doubled over the past 3 years, and the number of people accessing online ratings information has increased from 14% to 22%.

Also, word-of-mouth has long been recognized as a leading factor in a consumer’s choice of doctors, and the Internet has the ability to intensify the impact of negative comments. This is especially true of sites devoted to specific conditions, which are often a consumer’s first online stop after being diagnosed. Patients looking to these sites for support are also looking for physician recommendations, which can often amount to advice on what doctors not to see.