Report: Online ratings influence health-care decisions

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A new report says online reviews and ratings affect most Americans’ decisions when choosing a doctor.

About 75 percent of Americans say online ratings and review sites influenced their decisions when selecting their physicians. The study was commissioned by McLean-based Binary Fountain, a company that provides feedback management solutions for the health-care industry.

The Healthcare Consumer Insight & Digital Engagement survey also said 95 percent of respondents found online reviews “somewhat” to “very” reliable. In addition, the survey of more than 1,000 adults found that 30 percent of consumers share their personal health-care experiences via social media and online review sites.

Of the respondents that have used ratings and review sites when choosing a doctor, many selected Google as a primary source (34 percent), followed by Healthgrades (17 percent), Consumer Health Ratings (13 percent), Rate MDs (13 percent) and Yelp (12 percent).

The survey also provided insight into consumers’ opinions on the importance of attributes when evaluating a doctor. The survey found 48 percent of consumers found “a friendly and caring attitude” as the most important factor, while 42 percent said “thoroughness of examination” and 40 percent said “ability to answer all my questions” were the most important factors.

Respondents also shared their largest frustrations. Forty-eight percent of respondents ages 25 or older said “wait time” was the most frustrating part of visiting the doctor, while 41 percent of consumers between the ages of 18 and 24 said “having to schedule an appointment” was the most frustrating issue.

“The survey results verify that online ratings, reviews and social media need to be carefully monitored and evaluated by health-care providers to remain competitive in today’s health-care market,” Aaron Clifford, senior vice president of marketing at Binary Fountain, said in a statement.  “Industry research shows online ratings and reviews do not indicate quality outcomes of the health-care providers, however, they do provide insights on how patients are experiencing various aspects of care.”

The survey was conducted by OnePoll, a market research company specializing in quantitative research and polling. Feedback was obtained from more than 1,000 U.S. adults who have a physician.

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