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

n, and among them 16% have consulted rankings or reviews online of doctors or other providers. Angie's list also found that 76% of its users welcome physician rating information."

Doctors have expressed a contrasting view. The American Medical Association and many physicians have criticized online physician rating services, charging that consumers lack detailed clinical information and that those who input ratings represent a disgruntled minority rather than average patients. They contend that consumer ratings provide negligible or even misleading information.

The authors addressed these concerns in their research.

On the selection of physicians rated, they asked if patients using the online sites review the full range of doctors (including those viewed positively, neutrally, and negatively); if they are biased toward giving negative reviews to doctors (which the authors characterize as "bad mouthing"); or if they are biased toward giving mostly positive reviews (providing what the authors call "sounds of silence" about poor caregivers).

On the selection of opinions to express, the authors investigated if respondents tend toward hyperbole and largely report their most extreme experiences with doctors.

Data for the study was taken from four data sets: online data from RateMDs.com, one of the largest American physician rating services; an offline patient survey conducted by the consumer advocacy group Consumers' Checkbook for the cities of Denver, Memphis, and Kansas City; the U.S. Census 2007 Economic Census, which was a source of information about population and median income in the three cities examined; and state medical board websites.

The authors came to two major conclusions that give credence to concerns about bias among respondents to online physicians rating services.

First, they find that physicians with low ratings in offline surveys are less likely to be rated online, therefore supporting th
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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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