“If you’re looking for the best doctor, online ratings are unlikely to be much help,” Zachary Tracer writes over at Bloomberg. “That’s the determination of researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, who compared reviews of 78 of the medical center’s specialists on five popular ratings sites with a set of internal quality measures and found there was essentially no correlation. The results suggest that in a world awash in online feedback for seemingly every consumer choice, reliable, easy-to-interpret information on how good doctors are at their jobs remains scarce. ‘Patients are using these online ratings probably more often than they should,’ Timothy Daskivich, a professor of urology at the medical center and an author of the study, said in an interview. … Brennan Spiegel, a gastroenterologist and co-author of the study, said that may be the right way to think about reviews — as gauges of things the patient can observe. ‘It may be that these ratings are a good measure of the front-office service or the interpersonal style of the physician,’ said Spiegel, a professor and director of health services research at Cedars-Sinai. ‘We’re not saying that there’s no value to these online ratings — we’re saying don’t confuse those ratings in any way, shape or form with the actual technical skill.’ The study, published online on Friday in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, compared measures developed by Cedars-Sinai with users’ ratings on five sites: Healthgrades, Yelp, Vitals, RateMDs and UCompareHealthCare. The internal performance metrics include reviews from doctors’ colleagues and administrators, how often patients are readmitted and how long they remain in the hospital, and adherence to practice guidelines. According to the study, there was little correlation between the doctors’ performance scores and how their patients assessed them on the websites.” Zachary Tracer, “Don’t Yelp Your Doctor. Study Finds Ratings Are All Wrong,” Bloomberg.
Jeanne Pinder is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded... More by Jeanne Pinder