Although legions of doctors have bristled at the physician rankings that are widely available online, most consumers in fact do not use the rankings when choosing a provider, medical facility or even an insurance carrier, for that matter. According to the results of a Harris Poll recently commissioned by the California Healthcare Foundation, most patients favor word-of-mouth recommendations to scorecards published on the Internet, which the American Medical Association opposes in some cases. Only 1 percent of surveyed respondents made a change in their hospital or health plan based on ratings sites. The survey found that consumers mainly use the Internet to learn more about specific diagnoses or symptoms. However, some clinicians don't believe that the survey results mean that providers and carriers should trivialize evaluations posted on the Internet, recognizing that consumers may embrace online ratings in the near future.
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