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Physician-rating websites are biased, says paper at INFORMS Healthcare conference
Date:6/14/2011

MONTREAL, June 14, 2011 Patients posting their opinions about doctors on online ratings websites are much less likely to discuss physicians with low perceived quality and are more prone than offline populations to exaggerate their opinions, according to a paper being presented at a healthcare conference sponsored by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).

"Patients need high quality information about the most consequential service that they consume: healthcare," said Ritu Agarwal, professor of information systems and director of the Center for Health Information and Decision Systems at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. "They want and need to be able to make informed choices."

"The Information Value of Online Physician Ratings" is co-authored by Agarwal, Guodong "Gordon" Gao, assistant professor, and PhD candidate Brad Greenwood, both of the Smith School, along with Jeffrey McCullough of the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. The researchers will deliver their findings at INFORMS Healthcare 2011 http://meetings2.informs.org/healthcare2011/ on June 20 in Montreal, Quebec. The conference takes place June 20-22 at the Hilton Montreal Bonaventure. Agarwal is editor-in-chief of the INFORMS journal Information Systems Research.

The authors investigated potential biases among Internet users rating general practitioners on websites such as Angie's List, healthgrades.com, RateMds.com, Vitals.com, and Yelp.com. They looked specifically at the way patients determine which physicians to rate and the intensity of opinions they express.

Citing a 2010 Pew Internet and Life Project survey, the authors write, "Online physician ratings are gaining popularity among patients. The public's demand for this information is striking: 59% of U.S. adults have looked online for health informatio
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Contact: Barry List
barry.list@informs.org
443-757-3560
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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