95% of Americans find online doctor reviews reliable, survey suggests

The 1,000-person survey from Binary Fountain also found that half of Americans have shared healthcare experiences online.
By Jonah Comstock
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American consumers are more often using online review sites to choose doctors, and they’re increasingly trusting of those reviews, especially millennials, according to a new survey of 1,000 US adults.

The survey, , found that 95 percent of respondents — and 97 percent of millennials — found online ratings and reviews somewhat to very reliable. And 70 percent said that online ratings and review sites had influenced their choice of physician. Forty-one percent said they still check a doctor out online, even if they were referred to them by another physician.

“The survey results underscore the significance of online ratings and reviews as online reputation management for physicians becomes ever-more important in today’s healthcare consumer environment,” Aaron Clifford, senior vice president of marketing at Binary Fountain, said in a statement. “As patients are becoming more vocal about their healthcare experiences, healthcare organizations need to play a more active role in compiling, reviewing and responding to patient feedback, if they want to compete in today’s marketplace.”

Where do patients go for these doctor reviews? Well, 34 percent went to the hospital’s own website first, which is good news for providers looking to control their message. Twenty-nine percent went to Google, 18 percent started at WebMD and 15 percent headed for Healthgrades.

Interestingly, 12 percent said Facebook is where they started for reviews, and the survey showed that generally people are willing to share their healthcare experiences on social media platforms. Fifty-one percent of all respondents and 70 percent of millennials said they have shared experiences with a physician online, either via social media or on an online review site.

These findings could be troubling for healthcare professionals, who tend to have a different view of online reviews. A survey in May found that nine in 10 doctors were worried about online reviews, and a Mayo Clinic research project from April showed that reviews often reflected non-physician care experience factors.

Respondents also shared what they were looking for in a physician and what turned them off. Bedside manner was paramount. Forty-eight percent of respondents marked “a friendly and caring attitude” as a highly important factor and 47 percent indicated “an ability to answer all my questions” was important. Additionally, 45 percent ranked the thoroughness of the examination among important factors.

The most frustrating part of a hospital experience? Wait times, according to 43 percent of respondents. Ten percent said cost and payment, 10 percent said waiting for exam results and 9 percent listed scheduling.