Trends of Online Ratings of Otolaryngologists: What Do Your Patients Really Think of You?

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Abstract

IMPORTANCE

The otolaryngologist’s online reputation is of increasing importance. Physician rating websites are becoming increasingly prevalent, and patients are using them to evaluate their current and future physicians.

OBJECTIVE

To evaluate patterns in online ratings of otolaryngologists.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS

From May 1, 2013, through June 1, 2013, lists of academic program faculty members in the Northeastern United States were compiled, and academic allopathic otolaryngologists from the Eastern Section of the Triological Society were identified. Each faculty member’s name was searched using the Google search engine to link to profiles on the Healthgrades.com and Vitals.com websites.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES

State, program, academic position, years in practice, subspecialty, ratings, and reviews were recorded. Ratings were compared using analysis of variance.

RESULTS

A total of 281 faculty members from 25 programs were identified. A total of 266 otolaryngologists (94.7%) had a profile on Healthgrades, and 247 (87.9%) had a profile on Vitals. Of those with profiles, 186 (69.9%) and 202 (81.8%) had patient reviews on Healthgrades and Vitals, respectively. The mean score was 4.4 of 5.0 on Healthgrades and 3.4 of 4.0 on Vitals. On Vitals, 179 profiles (63.7%) had comments associated with them. Overall, 49 comments (27.3%) were determined to be negative, and 138 otolaryngologists (49.1%) had at least 1 negative comment. Academic position and subspecialty affected reviews on Healthgrades. State and years in practice did not influence reviews.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE

Most patients use online resources for information on health care professionals. Physician perceptions of these sites tend to be negative. Awareness of the content and rating patterns may help physicians better manage their online reputation.

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