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Wait time, bedside manner, knowledge: 5 approaches to doctor rating websites

7:06 pm by | 4 Comments

The ability to rate one’s doctor or dentist has become as easy as reviewing a salon or restaurant and some see it as one of the basic ways to disrupt healthcare. After all, the more information you have at your disposal the better, right? A quick peruse around Google reveals that these sites’ content varies quite a bit in quality and quantity.

One doctor rating website, Vitals.com, placed 47th among Inc.’s fastest growing private companies. Vitals.com had $6.4 million in revenues last year, and is used by Aetna-owned app iTriage. It got me thinking about some of the other websites offering physician ratings on the Internet. So here are some details about five companies that include healthcare professional ratings on their websites and the criteria they use.

Vitals.com

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One of the most comprehensive of the websites, it provides a nice balance of reviews as well as pre-hospital visit preparation to ensure users get the most out of their visit. It lets you search for doctors alphabetically, by state, by condition, by specialty and subspecialty. It has separate physician specialties for children and adolescents. Each doctor profile includes a link to their phone number and address and some include whether they are board certified and the rating of their hospital and medical school. Some profiles contain a video with a transcript if you can’t be bothered to watch.

Criteria: Seven including ease of appointment, promptness, courteousness of staff, accurate diagnosis, bedside manner, spends time with me, follow up. It also mentions the waiting time, on a scale of one to four stars.

Extras: It provides some patient education content referred to as guides to help users prepare for a visit including the types of specialist physicians for a specific illness, lets them know what to expect and the kind of questions users should be thinking about.

ZocDoc

One of the oldest websites for scheduling doctor appointments, (the company was launched in 2007) it also provides a ratings section. It has a useful FAQ in which it details how the site works and how reviews are posted. Doctors are listed by city, specialty and insurance provider. so there’s no guesswork. It provides a place for physicians to give professional statements on their experience. Although it would be nice to have more criteria, it’s probably made the decision at some point that more users will contribute with less.

Criteria: Three, including wait time, bedside manner and overall rating from zero to five stars. Each entry provides a brief review. It also indicates that patients have been verified. Reviews can be transmitted on Twitter, e-mail, Google+ and individual physicians can be “liked” on Facebook.

Healthgrades

Doctors and dentists are listed by proximity to your location, gender, those recommended by patients. It provides a background section for doctors including their age, where they went to medical school and when they graduated and where they did their residency. It shows how many have no sanction or malpractice, prioritizes according to best matches by location and the specialty you have chosen. Like ZocDoc, users can select doctors by insurance plan for particular specialties. It informs you how many specialties at a hospital are rated.

Criteria: Nine including level of trust, helps patients understand their condition, listens and answers questions, time spent with patient – definitely a thorny issue these days. It also encourages users to rate the doctor by the office environment – ease of scheduling appointments, aesthetics, friendliness and wait time. Ratings can be given on a scale of five from poor to excellent and from definitely no to definitely yes on the office environment questions. Before rating doctors, website requests users “take into account all aspects of his background. This includes training, experience and education as well as patient experience survey results!”

Extras: Gives some doctor visit prep information with content that includes At first I found it curious that there were no user reviews of hospitals – that’s because healthgrades does its own reviews. It analyzes patient outcome data for virtually every hospital in the country, according to its website. It uses specific data sources for its various ratings and awards.

Healthcarereviews.com

This is the first global doctor review website I encountered. In addition to the U.S., users can search Canada, Europe and “world regions,” which include Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and major cities in the Caribbean. It also provides reviews of health plans, and health professionals. It gives overall ratings of specialties, too. Be warned, this is purely a review site and if you like brevity, so much the better. Don’t look for contact information either — I found none. Relatively few doctors are reviewed, which, in fairness, is an ongoing issue in the ratings game. In the UK for example, under its EU brand, 22 doctors are rated but precious few are accompanied by a comment.

Criteria: Three including: knowledgeable, wait times, cost, approachable, on a scale of 1-10.

Extras: Can share information on as many social media websites as your heart desires.

Ratemds.com

It probably has among the most utilitarian layouts of the five websites reviewed here. Still its features are subtle and take time to view. On one margin it has what appeared to be a real-time scroll of user reviews as recent as 10 minutes ago. Users can view doctors by the top 10 in a particular specialty by city. It also had  the option of showing only doctors accepting new patients. There’s a useful FAQ explaining how the website works and the founders’ previous experience.

Criteria: Three, including punctuality, knowledge, helpfulness on a scale of 1-5. The overall quality is based on the helpfulness and knowledge rating. Social media friendly with links to Facebook and Google+.

Extras: A forums section lists conversation topics like “arrogant doctors,” the pros and cons of posting a candid review, links to colorful stories like a video like a surgeon who, stuck in gridlocked traffic, borrowed a colleague’s daughter’s bicycle  to get to the OR in time for a procedure. It also has what I considered to be a tacky “wall of shame” for doctors “that it knows of” who request patients to sign gag contracts before it accepts them as patients that seems to operate on an honor system.

[Flickr photo from Marcelita1207]

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Stephanie Baum

By Stephanie Baum

Stephanie Baum is the East Coast Innovation Reporter for MedCityNews.com. She enjoys covering healthcare startups across health IT, drug development and medical devices and innovations deployed to improve medical care. She graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania and has worked across radio, print and video. She's written for The Christian Science Monitor, Dow Jones & Co. and United Business Media.
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4 comments
Aliveandcicking
Aliveandcicking

http://drsocial.org is the only review website that has a reputation control management system (each review is manually verified before publishing) and has a revolutionary marketing strategy. 

Instead of using ads as all other sites they partner with non profit associations/hospitals. For every sign up received from the partners feed they donate $1. Check their link on Colon Cancer Alliance website:

http://www.ccalliance.org/help/shop_services.html

These guys have set a new benchmark (Google may not be so happy, but medical research is going to receive great benefits)


FactCheqr
FactCheqr

You list "Inc.’s top 100 fastest growing physician ratings websites." -- this is a typo.  There is no such list.

AriTulla
AriTulla

BetterDoctor is a brand new doctor discovery site that clearly shows the validated better doctors.  Test the beta service at http://betterdoctor.com

StephLBaum
StephLBaum

 @FactCheqr Thanks for pointing that out. It's from the Inc. 5,000 list of fastest growing companies.