Online Consumer Ratings of Physicians Tend to Be Skewed

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Allied health providers had higher median overall satisfaction scores vs physicians in medical specialties and surgical specialties.
Allied health providers had higher median overall satisfaction scores vs physicians in medical specialties and surgical specialties.

HealthDay News — Online physician reviews tend to be skewed positively, according to a study published in the May issue of the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Timothy Daskivich, M.D., from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and colleagues sought to assess whether distributions of consumer ratings differ across specialties and to provide specialty-specific data to assist consumers and clinicians in interpreting ratings. In total, 212,933 health care providers rated on the Healthgrades consumer ratings website were sampled, including 29 medical specialties (128,678 providers), 15 surgical specialties (72,531 providers), and six allied health (non-medical, non-nursing) professions (11,724 providers) throughout the United States.

The researchers found that allied health providers had higher median overall satisfaction scores (4.5) versus physicians in medical specialties (4.0) and surgical specialties (4.2; P < 0.001). For all specialties, overall satisfaction scores were highly left skewed (normal between −0.5 and 0.5). Due to the skewness, the percentages of overall satisfaction scores <4 were 23 percent for allied health, 37 percent for surgical specialties, and 50 percent for medical specialties.

"Online consumer ratings of health care providers are highly left skewed, fall within narrow ranges, and differ by specialty, which precludes meaningful interpretation by health care consumers," the authors write. "Specialty-specific percentile ranks may help consumers to more meaningfully assess online physician ratings."

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