Makin' Money

POLL: Would you pick your doctor based on a review website?

Daryl Paranada Nov 11, 2010

So you’re looking for a good place to eat. Restaurant review sites like Yelp may help with your hunger cravings. Looking to book a good hotel for your next vacation? Head to TripAdvisor. But can similar ratings sites — like HealthGrade, RateMDs, Vitals, Angie’s List — work when you want to find a doctor?

“There’s an increasing interest in that kind of review site,” said Susannah Fox, associate director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

A recent Pew study found that 24 percent of online health consumers have consulted rankings or reviews online of doctors. The same percentage of people has also consulted rankings or reviews online of hospitals or other medical facilities.

But when it comes to creating new health content, only 5 percent of online health consumers have posted a review of a doctor on the Web, and 4 percent have posted a review of a hospital.

“When we’re looking at how people access health information line, most people are quiet,” said Fox. “They’re not posting, they’re not creating a lot of content. They are reading the blogs, they’re lurking on the discussion forums, they’re reading the e-mails that come in, they’re watching the videos, and they’re listening to the podcast.”

Fox says people are interested in getting answers, but may not have the time or interest to contribute.

And some consumers, like Marietta Szubski, 45, are wary of the kind of the information that is available on physician review sites.

“I don’t really use the Internet for finding a provider. That I will stick to personal recommendations,” said Szubski, a copywriter from Seattle. “I just find that information on providers very generic.”

While 49-year-old Ken Joldersma says consumers do need to be careful about where they gather their information, he would still use doctor review sites like Angie’s List for a baseline.

“I would use that [doctor review websites] as a single resource and do other searches and get other information,” he says. “I wouldn’t use it as my sole point of information.”

Take our poll and tell us whether you would use these online review sites to pick your doctor. And follow the rest of our health care coverage in our Consumer’s Guide to Health Care.

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