Online Ratings For Dermatologists Generally High

Christie Riemer MD Candidate-Class of 2016 Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Christie Riemer Interview with:
Christie Riemer

MD Candidate-Class of 2016
Michigan State University
College of Human Medicine

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Online physician rating sites allow patients to recommend, grade, and publicly comment on physician performance. Despite increases in physician rating website popularity, little information exists regarding the online footprint of dermatologists. Many physicians also remain wary of these websites for fear of malicious reviews.

Our study aimed to investigate the patterns of dermatologist online ratings. We found the average ratings for dermatologists were high, >3.5 stars, on the top 5 websites (ZocDoc, Healthgrades, Yelp, RateMDs, and, we also searched for more specific geographic criteria such as including a location in our search for example a dermatologist in columbia sc, by doing this we found that the online ratings were not only national and but state wide too allowing us to look for local and national patterns of ratings. Most importantly, these ratings were consistently high across the 3 sites with the most dermatologist profiles. There were no differences in rating based on gender or subspecialty training. Four of the sites offer the option to write comments. ZocDoc had significantly fewer negative comments, and also had the most comments per dermatologist, there are also dermatologists in different areas of the United States, for example, there is a dermatologist in nyc that those who live in that area can look into.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Patients are increasingly utilizing social media to make healthcare decisions. A 2014 study found 61% of patients used PRSs prior to choosing a physician, and 20% utilized online reviews to evaluate their current physician. In 2015 alone, physician rating sites experienced up to 6.4 million hits.

Our results show that, despite physician reservations, dermatologist online ratings are high. While a range of reviews is helpful to improve practice, our study suggests that sites which prompt more patient feedback may be less susceptible to outlier bias because they encourage all patients to participate, not only those who with an extreme experience. We encourage dermatologists to familiarize with the various features of rating sites to better utilize this social media resource to reach their patient population.

For patients, It’s important to note that the data we present is limited because of the subjective quality of online reviews. Therefore, when reading online reviews to make healthcare decisions, it is not always possible to draw correlations between ratings and actual quality of care.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We looked at a total of 100 dermatologists. In the future, it would be interesting to expand our study and include a lot more physician profiles. We could also look at the difference in ratings due to other factors, like years in practice and academic affiliation.


Christie Riemer (2015). Online Ratings For Dermatologists Generally High

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