Online Physician Rating Sites Aren’t Getting Enough Patient Ratings

March 13, 2012
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Columnist Ron Lieber writes that consumers are not posting online reviews of their health care experiences as often as they are posting online reviews of restaurants and other services.

Lieber writes that websites such as HealthGrades, RateMDs, Yelp and Angie’s List have offered a platform for health care reviews, but “listings are often sparse, with few contributors and little substance.” He adds that there is a “demand and supply problem: many people want this information and more consumers would trust it if the sites had more robust offerings.”

According to Lieber, some physicians have “silenced patients away” by asking patients not to review them online or by suing patients who do so.

In addition, some patients might choose not to review their doctors “for a far more ordinary reason: if they live in a small town or are only one or two degrees of social separation from physicians or their family members, they may not want to create any awkwardness,” Lieber writes.

He also notes that some patients might “idolize their doctors,” adding that it is “exactly this sort of unquestioning mind-set that may cause such low participation (or disproportionately positive reviews) at many review sites.”

Lieber writes, “The only solution, then, is to keep populating these sites en masse if you dare and your doctor doesn’t seem to be the suing sort, taking care all the while to tell the truth and be fair” (Lieber, New York Times, 3/9).