The growth of physician rating websites is raising concern among doctors, Kaiser Health News/Washington Post reports.
Currently, more than 50 websites allow patients to post online reviews of their physicians, according to Guodong Gordon Gao, co-director of the Center for Health Information and Decision Systems at the University of Maryland School of Business.
While some sites rate physicians in multiple categories, others assign letter grades to physicians based on patient reviews. Some sites allow patients to rate individual physicians anonymously.
Many physicians have criticized doctor rating sites that allow patients to provide feedback anonymously. They argue that such sites do not offer accountability or a way for physicians to defend themselves.
In a statement, the American Medical Association said that "anonymous online opinions of physicians should be taken with a grain of salt and should not be a patient's sole source of information when looking for a new physician."
Study Finds Physician Ratings Mostly Positive
However, a recent study by Gao and colleagues found that many physicians receive positive online reviews from patients.
Researchers examined more than 386,000 anonymous physician ratings posted on RateMDs.com between 2005 and 2010. They found that physicians on average received a quality rating of 3.93 out of 5, with nearly 50% of doctors receiving a rating of 5.
Gao said, "The American Medical Association and others have said that the sites can ruin physicians' reputations." He noted that the "number-one surprise" of the study was finding that doctor ratings generally are positive (Andrews, Kaiser Health News/Washington Post, 7/2).