An Assessment of Online Reviews of Hand Surgeons

Document Type: RESEARCH PAPER

Authors

Rothman Institute of Orthopedics, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Abstract

 Background: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the number of reviews and scores for active members of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) in popular physician rating websites (Healthgrades.com and Vitals.com).
Methods: A total of 433 ASSH active members were searched in two popular rating websites for a total of 866 web searches. Demographic data, overall and subcategory scores, number of reviews, and wait times were scored from each member’s webpage.
Results: The average number of reviews per surgeon on Healthgrades.com and Vitals.com were 13.8 (range 1-108) and 9.4 (range 0-148), respectively. The average overall score for physicians was 8.1 out of 10 points. For both websites, the vast majority (80-90%) of active members of the ASSH had 20 or less reviews. Multivariate data analysis revealed no statistical differences in overall score by region (P=0.24) or gender (P=0.38). Increasing physician age negatively correlated with overall score (P=0.01). Wait time was not associated with a negative score (P=0.38).
Conclusion: Active members of the ASSH received generally positive reviews. The average number of reviews for active members of the ASSH was exceedingly small, bringing into question the legitimacy and validity of these scores. This is especially important when taking into consideration the increasing popularity of these websites, and the reliance of patients on them to obtain physician information. The clinical implication of this study is that physicians have a vested interest in the legitimacy of the data provided by these websites and other physician rating outlets.

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