Study: Patients don't typically use online ratings

Though physicians fear that their business will be adversely affected by off-the-cuff online ratings, few patients actually make use of such ratings, according to new research. A Harris Interactive poll commissioned by the California HealthCare Foundation concluded that while more than 80 percent of the state's adults use the web for health information, less than one-quarter have made use of physician ratings sites. More significantly, only 2 percent of those surveyed had changed doctors based on ratings-site information. Even fewer (1 percent) changed hospitals or health plans based on data from ratings sites. All that being said, more people are looking at physician ratings sites than they were three years ago. Harris found that the number of people who looked at physician ratings sites climbed from 14 percent in 2004 to 22 percent in 2007.

Even though consumers aren't heavily influenced by web ratings today, medical groups are well aware that things can change. For that reason, the AMA continues to monitor the practice of physicians ratings online, and has occasionally taken action to oppose such schemes.

To learn more about the study:
- read this AMNews article