10 Worst Cities for Patient Satisfaction

An evaluation of online reviews of physicians revealed which cities had the least satisfied patients. Further investigation found no correlation between satisfaction and other factors like education, income, or insurance status.

Patients living in New York and California seem to be less satisfied with their physicians, according to an evaluation of online reviews.

Vanguard Communications recently scoured online reviews on Google+ and Yelp.com of more than 46,000 healthcare providers and the 100 largest cities in the US according the average patient rating (5-star scale).

The Happy Patient Index provides a comparative snapshot of how satisfied Americans are with the healthcare available in their cities.

Overall, physicians get mostly good reviews. According to Vanguard’s data, 56.8% of reviewers gave their physicians 4 stars or better. Only 12.1% received an average of less than 2 stars. Physicians who are receiving bad reviews now have to consider if, or how, to address them.

“From these findings, I’d say that doctors get much better reviews than hotels, restaurants and retail businesses,” Vanguard Chief Executive Officer Ron Harman King, said in a statement. “Another discovery is that you can find happy patients everywhere, not just in sunny, warm places but also in relatively cloudy and damp locations such as Cleveland and Seattle.”

Vanguard also found no correlations between city rankings and other statistics like population size, average income, age, educational attainment, political leanings, or even percent of the population with health insurance.

According to the results, 3 of America’s wealthiest cities are among the 20 cities where patients are unhappiest with their doctors and 3 of the top 10 happiest cities have mean household incomes below the national mean.

Online reviews in the healthcare industry have not taken off in quite the same way as in other industries. While there are a number of sites—HealthGrades.com, RateMDs.com, even Angie’s List—none of them are considered the definitive source for patients to find reviews on physicians. None of these sites have caught on in the way Yelp.com has for restaurants or TripAdvisor has for vacations.

Here are the 10 cities with the lowest patient satisfaction scores.

10. Huntington, New York

Average rating: 3.5 stars

Median age: 42.2

Population: 203,264

Median income: $105,426

Northport in Huntington

The residents of Huntington are the oldest in the 10 cities with the least satisfied patients, plus they also have the highest median income, the highest high school graduation rate (93%) and the lowest poverty rate (4.4%). This just goes to show that there was little correlation between satisfaction and money and education—although people might think there would be.

9. Washington, DC

Average rating: 3.49

Median age: 33.9

Population: 632,323

Median income: $64,267

Mount Pleasant

The nation’s capital has the largest population in the top 10, and the president would be happy to know the District of Columbia has one of the higher rates of insured population (85.4%). Despite that, online reviewers from the city gave their physicians an average rating below 3.5 out of 5 stars.

8. San Bernardino, California

Average rating: 3.48

Median age: 28.8

Population: 213,295

Median income: $39,097

San Bernardino. Photo by RafaÅ‚ Próchniak.

Along with having the youngest population in the top 10, the residents of San Bernardino also have one of the lowest median incomes. The high school graduation rate of 67.9% is also the lowest among the top 10 least satisfied cities, by far. As a result, 30.6% of the population in is poverty. Last year, the city was named one of the least healthy cities in America, according to a Trulia report from January 2013.

6. (tied) Orlando, Florida

Average rating: 3.45

Median age: 32.3

Population: 249,562

Median income: $42,418

Lake Eola Park

Although Orlando has one of the highest graduation rates from high school (87.6%), roughly 18% of its population is in poverty. The city has the highest rate of uninsured (24.4%) among the top 10 cities with the least satisfied patient population.

6. (tied) Riverside, California

Average rating: 3.45

Median age: 30.3

Population: 313,673

Median income: $56,403

University of California, Riverside, Botanical Gardens. Photo by Rick Sidwell.

More than three-quarters of the residents in Riverside are insured, and the same percentage graduated from high school. Riverside is just 19 minutes from San Bernardino (ranked 8). The city was included with San Bernardino in Trulia’s ranking of least healthy cities.

4. (tied) Buffalo, New York

Average rating: 3.44

Median age: 33.3

Population: 259,384

Median income: $30,502

Niagara Square.

The residents of Buffalo earn a third of what their counterparts in Huntington make and 30% of the population is in poverty. Despite that, 91.4% of the population is insured, which is the best rate among the top 10 least satisfied cities.

4. (tied) Sacramento, California

Average rating: 3.44

Median age: 33.4

Population: 475,516

Median income: $50,661

Photo by J. Smith

Although 20% of the population lives in poverty, 82.5% of Sacramento’s residents are insured. Despite being unsatisfied with their physicians, last year, AARP named the University of California Davis Medical Center in Sacramento one of the safest hospitals in America.

3. North Hempstead, New York

Average rating: 3.42

Median age: 42.1

Population: 226,322

Median income: $104,378

Manhasset Bay. Photo by Fred Hsu.

The profile of North Hempstead’s residents is remarkably similar to Huntington’s. The city has a high median income, an older population, a high graduation rate (90.4%) and a low poverty rate (5.2%).

2. Modesto, California

Average rating: 3.39

Median age: 33.3

Population: 203,547

Median income: $49,205

Although the residents of Modesto are unhappy with their physicians, a little over an hour west lays San Francisco, which has the happiest patients in the country. Of course, San Francisco is also one of the healthiest cities in the US.

1. Bakersfield, California

Average rating: 3.34

Median age: 30

Population: 358,597

Median income: $54,365

Downtown. Photo by Joseph Vasquez.

Like fellow California cities San Bernardino and Riverside, Bakersfield had been named one of the least healthy cities in the country because it did so poorly on measures gauging how easy it is for residents to lose weight. The American Lung Association has ranked Bakersfield as one of the most ozone-polluted cities in the nation, and last year, the city had the worst air in the US.