is titled “User-Generated Physician Ratings and Their Effects on Patients’ Physician Choice: Evidence from Yelp” and written by Yiwei Chen and Stephanie Lee.
With the proliferation of technology and increased availability of information, patients increasingly rely on user-generated online ratings when choosing physicians and making other healthcare decisions. A recent survey shows that nearly three-quarters of patients rely on online reviews as the first step in finding a new doctor. However, consumers generally lack the specialized knowledge needed to evaluate service quality and it is unclear whether online ratings are indicative of physician quality information and whether they influence patients’ physician choices. .
This new study suggests that online physician rating platforms can help disseminate critical quality information to patients and direct them to high-quality physicians. Our research addresses these two questions:
- Do online ratings correlate with therapist quality?
- Do online ratings influence patients’ physician choices – and if so – what are the underlying mechanisms through which ratings influence patients’ physician choices?
Despite the popularity of consumer-generated online physician ratings, their effectiveness and reliability are unclear. For example, the American Medical Association has expressed concern that user-generated physician ratings may lack useful information and that the ratings may not reflect actual patient treatment outcomes. On the other hand, online ratings can be a valuable resource: patients may be able to estimate the clinical quality of physicians by observing their own health conditions or by directly assessing the physicians’ empathy, attentiveness, and communication skills.
To examine the impact of user-generated online ratings on health care choices, the researchers combined physician rating data from Yelp.com with data from Medicare, which covers a large elderly patient group. For consumers who make their physician choice decisions based on online ratings, the finding that physicians with higher ratings have higher clinical quality indicates that patients will be matched with higher quality physicians.
How patients use online rating platforms to choose doctors
studies show Practitioners with higher ratings have better educational and professional credentials as measured by board certification status, rank of schools, and accreditation. In addition, higher-rated physicians have higher adherence to clinical guidelines and patients of higher-rated physicians exhibit better clinical outcomes.
Chen says that “our results suggest that online reviews are highly correlated with important measures of clinical quality and provide important quality signals to patients.”
The researchers also examine the effects of ratings on patient flow, as measured by physician revenue and patient volume, and find that increasing a physician’s average rating has a positive effect on patient flow and a physician’s annual patient revenue and volume. increases in
Researchers use a machine learning algorithm to determine what information is included in online physician reviews. They find that reviews report on physicians’ service-related quality (e.g., a physician’s bedside manner, waiting times, and office facilities) and clinical and treatment-related quality (e.g., treatments, diagnoses, prescriptions, and outcomes). contains signs. “When choosing a therapist, we find that patients respond most to information about therapists’ interpersonal and clinical skills,” says Lee.
Also, patient responses to online ratings are higher for physicians with more reviews. The finding is consistent with signaling theory, which indicates that ratings will signal greater information about physician quality when there are a greater number of reviews.
The effects of ratings on patient flow are greater for physicians with younger patients, who have greater access to online rating information. Furthermore, the positive effect of positive online ratings on patient flow is greater for solo practitioners, who may lack institutional support.
For self-employed physicians who are not associated with large hospitals and brand names, good online ratings can provide additional information, help with indication quality and reduce patient uncertainty. These findings have important implications for policy makers, health care managers, physicians, patients, and online physician rating platforms. Online ratings are strongly and positively associated with traditional measures of physicians’ credibility, physicians’ adherence to clinical guidelines, and patients’ clinical outcomes.
The finding that user-generated physician ratings are positively associated with important measures of physician quality highlights that online physician reviews can be a reliable and user-friendly source of information.
It is also important for policy makers, practitioners, and online rating platforms to create mechanisms that encourage the accumulation of physician ratings to improve the quality of information and reliability of rating platforms. Physicians who want to improve their patient flow should be careful about online reputation management because reviews about physicians’ interpersonal and clinical skills have a significant impact on patients’ physician choices.