Online ratings do play role in doctor selection

When it comes to selecting a pediatrician, most parents favor word-of-mouth recommendations to help guide their choice, according to new research from the University of Michigan Health System.

However, online patient reviews or ratings play a smaller yet significant role in parents' selection process as well--and will likely increase in the future. Consider the following findings from U-M's National Poll on Children's Health, which can help guide your marketing and patient relations efforts:

  • 25 percent of parents say they consider doctor rating websites very important in their search for a child's physician.
  • Mothers (30 percent) are more likely than fathers (19 percent) to think online ratings are very important.
  • Parents younger than 30 (44 percent) are more likely than parents 30 or older (21 percent) to think doctor rating websites are very important.
  • A doctor's years of experience was rated as very important by 50 percent of respondents.
  • Word of mouth was very important to 52 percent of parents surveyed.
  • 30 percent of parents said they had chosen a pediatrician based on positive online reviews.
  • 30 percent of respondents said they had avoided a doctor because of bad ratings or reviews.

Despite the questionable reliability of online ratings due to their small, self-selected sample size, researchers predicted that doctor-review sites will become an increasingly prevalent source of health-consumer information in the future.

"These data suggest that younger families are more likely to rely on online ratings, which means over time we'd expect the use of these websites will keep increasing," David A. Hanauer, a primary care pediatrician and clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at U-M, who collaborated on the project, said in an announcement.

To learn more:
- read the announcement from the University of Michigan Health System
- access the study report