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Differences in Online Consumer Ratings of Health Care Providers Across Medical, Surgical, and Allied Health Specialties: Observational Study of 212,933 Providers.

Differences in Online Consumer Ratings of Health Care Providers Across Medical, Surgical, and Allied Health Specialties: Observational Study of 212,933 Providers.

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Differences in Online Consumer Ratings of Health Care Providers Across Medical, Surgical, and Allied Health Specialties: Observational Study of 212,933 Providers.

J Med Internet Res. 2018 May 09;20(5):e176

Authors: Daskivich T, Luu M, Noah B, Fuller G, Anger J, Spiegel B

Abstract
BACKGROUND: Health care consumers are increasingly using online ratings to select providers, but differences in the distribution of scores across specialties and skew of the data have the potential to mislead consumers about the interpretation of ratings.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of our study was to determine whether distributions of consumer ratings differ across specialties and to provide specialty-specific data to assist consumers and clinicians in interpreting ratings.
METHODS: We sampled 212,933 health care providers rated on the Healthgrades consumer ratings website, representing 29 medical specialties (n=128,678), 15 surgical specialties (n=72,531), and 6 allied health (nonmedical, nonnursing) professions (n=11,724) in the United States. We created boxplots depicting distributions and tested the normality of overall patient satisfaction scores. We then determined the specialty-specific percentile rank for scores across groupings of specialties and individual specialties.
RESULTS: Allied health providers had higher median overall satisfaction scores (4.5, interquartile range [IQR] 4.0-5.0) than physicians in medical specialties (4.0, IQR 3.3-4.5) and surgical specialties (4.2, IQR 3.6-4.6, P<.001). Overall satisfaction scores were highly left skewed (normal between -0.5 and 0.5) for all specialties, but skewness was greatest among allied health providers (-1.23, 95% CI -1.280 to -1.181), followed by surgical (-0.77, 95% CI -0.787 to -0.755) and medical specialties (-0.64, 95% CI -0.648 to -0.628). As a result of the skewness, the percentages of overall satisfaction scores less than 4 were only 23% for allied health, 37% for surgical specialties, and 50% for medical specialties. Percentile ranks for overall satisfaction scores varied across specialties; percentile ranks for scores of 2 (0.7%, 2.9%, 0.8%), 3 (5.8%, 16.6%, 8.1%), 4 (23.0%, 50.3%, 37.3%), and 5 (63.9%, 89.5%, 86.8%) differed for allied health, medical specialties, and surgical specialties, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: Online consumer ratings of health care providers are highly left skewed, fall within narrow ranges, and differ by specialty, which precludes meaningful interpretation by health care consumers. Specialty-specific percentile ranks may help consumers to more meaningfully assess online physician ratings.

PMID: 29743150 [PubMed - in process]

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