Experts Doubt Online Physician Rating Programs

Researchers say that while “crowdsourcing” techniques may be helpful in finding restaurants, the online ratings programs used to evaluate physicians have too few users to say anything meaningful about the performance of practitioners. A National Public Radio (NPR) blog posting in early January cites a recent survey of urologists conducted by The Journal of Urology; the average number of reviews available for 500 physicians—from a total of 10 physician rating websites—was 2.4 reviews. According to NPR: “the paltry number of participants means that one cranky patient’s complaint—or a rave from one doctor’s relative—can skew a rating.”

NPR also reports results from a similar study published in 2012 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, which found that while most ratings of Virginia physicians were positive, they were based on findings of an average of three patients per physician. NPR posits that patients may be intuiting that physician rating services are of limited value: while 80 percent of internet users report that they use online services to evaluate other products and services, only 20 percent say they choose healthcare providers that way. For more information, access “Online Grades For Doctors Get an Incomplete,” by Nancy Shute in the January 4, 2013 NPR blog, available at