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Tags: doctor | rating | websites

Doc Ratings Based on few Patient Reviews

Monday, 07 January 2013 10:57 AM EST

Doctors and medical specialists who receive top ratings on such websites as Healthgrades.com, Vitals.com, and RateMDs typically use them to promote their practices as exemplary. But a new analysis of such ratings sites has found they’re typically based on scores given by only a small number of patients — as few as two or three.
The study, published online in the Journal of Urology by Loyola University Medical Center researchers, suggest the sites used by millions of Americans to identify reputable physicians are misleading at best.
"Consumers should be cautious when they look at these ratings," said lead researcher Chandy Ellimoottil, M.D. "Our findings suggest that consumers should take these ratings with a grain of salt."
Dr. Ellimoottil explained that because physicians typically receive so few ratings, a highly negative or positive score from just one or two patients could skew the physician's rating. "These sites have potential to help inform consumers," Dr. Ellimoottil said. "But the sites need more reviews to make them more reliable."
The study, which involved 500 randomly selected urologists from 39 states, found that 79.6 percent were rated by at least one of the 10 free physician-review websites researchers examined.
Eighty-six percent of the doctors had positive ratings; 36 percent had highly positive ratings. Healthgrades had the most physician ratings. But on each website, the number of patient reviews per physician ranged from zero to 64, with the average 2.4.
Half of Americans who go online for health information look up their providers and 40 percent use physician-review websites, the researchers said.
Healthgrades posted reviews on 54 percent of physicians, followed by Vitals.com (45 percent); Avvo.com (39 percent); RateMDs.com (25 percent); Drscore (13 percent); Revolutionhealth.com (5 percent); Kudzu.com and Healthcarereviews.com (1 percent); and Zocdoc.com and Yelp.com (less than 1 percent).
Researchers also conducted a qualitative analysis of written comments posted on a single website, Vitals.com. Among the findings:
• Three percent of the comments were extremely negative (such as "He needs to retire as he can barely walk.");
• Twenty-two percent were negative or neutral; and
• Thirty-nine percent were positive and 14 percent were extremely positive (such as "One of the best checkups in a long time!!").

© HealthDay

Websites that rate doctor practices are typically based on scores given by only a small number of patients, researchers find.
Monday, 07 January 2013 10:57 AM
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