Online physician ratings do not accurately indicate care quality, study shows

A study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, examined whether online consumer ratings correlate with quality of care and peer-assessed physician performance.

Researchers conducted an observational study including 78 physicians from eight specialties. They studied consumer rating platforms with specialty-specific performance scores, primary care physician peer-review scores and administrator peer-review scores.

The study shows no strong correlation between mean consumer ratings and specialty-specific performance scores; primary care physician scores; and administrator scores. Among physicians in the lowest quartile of specialty-specific performance scores, only 5 percent to 32 percent had consumer ratings also in the lowest quartile across platforms.

However, consumer ratings were consistent across platforms — a physician's score on one platform strongly predicted the physician's score on another.

"Online consumer ratings should not be used in isolation to select physicians, given their poor association with clinical performance," study authors concluded.

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