Consumers Go Online to Find and Review Doctors

June 11, 2013
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Review doctors onlineOther patients’ comments are becoming increasingly important to consumers looking for a doctor, according to research from Vitals, a website that compiles doctor reviews and quality information from public sources. Results of the Vitals report, released May 29, show that 51 percent of people now use consumer ratings sites as a source of information.

Review doctors onlineOther patients’ comments are becoming increasingly important to consumers looking for a doctor, according to research from Vitals, a website that compiles doctor reviews and quality information from public sources. Results of the Vitals report, released May 29, show that 51 percent of people now use consumer ratings sites as a source of information.

The survey, which collected 1,000 responses between April 29 and May 2 from users on Vitals physician profile pages, indicated that 47 percent of the people who looked up a physician online felt differently about that doctor after viewing their profile. Forty percent said they felt reassured or more comfortable with their choice, while 7 percent said they felt the need to find a different doctor.

While people have used similar review and ratings sites to find restaurants and hotels for years, they are increasingly relying on these sites for their important healthcare decisions. Traffic to Vitals grew 77 percent in the first quarter of 2013, compared to the same period last year, the company reported.

Other key findings of the study:

  • Reviews from other patients were chosen just as much as a doctor’s years of experience when it came to determining a doctor’s qualifications to treat them (both selected by 76 percent of all respondents).
  • Nearly a quarter of patients need to see 5-6 reviews or ratings to feel they are a reliable indicator about the doctor.
  • 66 percent of respondents rely on the advice of friends and relatives as well as other medical doctors or staff for information when choosing a doctor.
  • Men and women age 54 and younger generally need to see less reviews to consider them reliable than women age 55 or older.

These results echo the 2012 Local Consumer Review Survey, which recently revealed a positive shift in consumer trust and appreciation of online reviews. Approximately 72 percent of consumers surveyed trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to Vitals.

“Over the past decade, the Internet has transferred power from the buyer to the seller in several different consumer sectors,” said Mitch Rothschild, CEO of Vitals, in a prepared statement. “We’re helping shape that transition in healthcare. Today people are more sensitive and inquisitive about both the quality and cost of the physician they see and the procedure being performed upfront. Other patients’ feedback on doctors has become a critical part of the process.”

Frank Irving is the Editor at PhysBizTech, where this article was originally published. PhysBizTech is a publication of MedTech Media that provides business and technology intelligence to forward-thinking medical practices.