Mar 14, 2014

Can We Trust Online Physician Ratings?

About, launched in 2004, is one of the earliest physician review websites in the United States, and records the largest number of user-submitted reviews with narratives (Lagu et al., 2010). According to Gao et al. (2012), as of January 31, 2010, there were a total of 368,559 physician ratings, covering about 16% of all practicing US physicians. The likelihood of being rated varies widely across specialties and is consistent across the regions: 32.43% of obstetrician/gynecologists, approximately 24.63% of medical specialists, 20% of surgeons, and 16.25% of primary care physicians had received a rating. (p. 8).
That is from the paper titled "Can We Trust Online Physician Ratings? Evidence from Cardiac Surgeons in Florida" by Susan F. Lu & Huaxia Rui. The abstract: 

Despite heated debate about the pros and cons of online physician ratings, very little systematic work examines the correlation between physicians’ online ratings and their actual medical performance. Using patients’ ratings of physicians at RateMDs website and the Florida Hospital Discharge data, we investigate whether online ratings reflect physicians’ medical skill by means of a two-stage model that takes into account patients’ ratings-based selection of cardiac surgeons. Estimation results suggest that five-star surgeons perform significantly better and are more likely to be selected by sicker patients than lower-rated surgeons. Our findings suggest that we can trust online physician reviews, at least of cardiac surgeons.
From the conclusions:
To our surprise, patients are smarter than many critics imagine. (p. 22). 

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