Online Ratings of Spine Surgeons: Analysis of 208 Surgeons

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Abstract

Study Design.

Observational study.

Objective.

To evaluate the online ratings of spine surgeons and variables that may affect online ratings.

Summary of Background Data.

Physician review Web sites (PRW) are rapidly growing for-profit businesses. Most orthopedic surgeons are rated on at least one PRW as are other surgical specialists. To date the online ratings of spine surgeons have not been evaluated.

Methods.

Cervical Spine Research Society surgeon ratings on five physician rating Web sites were performed in April 2016: “healthgrade.com,” “vitals.com,” “ratemd.com,” “webmd.com,” and “yelp.com.” Numeric ratings from the PRWs were standardized on a scale of 0 to 100 with a higher score indicating positive ratings. Sex, practice sector (academic or private), specialty (orthopedics or neurosurgery), geographic location, and years of practice were also collected.

Results.

A total of 209 spine surgeons were included in our study. Of the 209 spine surgeons, 208 (99.52%) were rated at least once in one of the five PRWs. Average number of ratings per surgeon was 2.96. Average rating was 80 (40–100). There were four female (1.92%) and 204 male surgeons (98.1%). There were 121 (58.2%) in academic practice and 87 (41.8%) in private practice. There were 175 (84.1%) orthopedic surgeons and 33 (15.9%) neurosurgeons. Most of the surgeons were Caucasian 163 (78.4%) and worked in the South and Northeast 135 (64.9%). Those in academic practice had significantly higher ratings (81.6 vs. 77.65; P  = 0.026). Number of years in practice was significantly associated with ratings (P  = 0.0003) with those in practice for 21 or more years having significantly lower ratings.

Conclusion.

In this first study evaluating the online ratings of spine surgeons, we found that 99.5% of spine surgeon had at least one rating on a PRW. The average score, 80, indicated mostly positive ratings. Being in practice for 20 years or less and being in academic practice significantly associated with higher ratings.

Conclusion.

Level of Evidence: 4

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