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Online Doctor Reviews

writtenByWritten by: PlushCare Content Team
PlushCare Content Team

PlushCare Content Team

The PlushCare Content Team delivers high-quality, medically-reviewed healthcare content as part of our mission to help all people live longer, healthier and happier lives.

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reviewBy Reviewed by: Dr. Katalin Karolyi
Reviewer

Dr. Katalin Karolyi

Katalin Karolyi, M.D. earned her medical degree at the University of Debrecen. After completing her residency program in pathology at the Kenezy Hospital, she obtained a postdoctoral position at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Orlando, Florida.

August 7, 2021 Read Time - 6 minutes

Online Doctor Reviews: Are They Trustworthy?

Many people have started choosing doctors based on online reviews. In fact, according to Mayo Clinic research, online physician reviews have become a popular resource for patients seeking information about medical options, with 1 in 6 physicians being rated. When it comes to our healthcare, we all want to have a good experience and receive quality care. 

Read on to learn more about the considerations and precautions to take when reading online doctor reviews and check out some comprehensive reviews we’ve curated of online doctor services.

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Related: Meet With an Online Doctor


Online Doctor Reviews: Take a Bit of Caution

When searching for unbiased doctor reviews, there are a few factors to keep in mind. A patient might go to a doctor and receive great care, but not be satisfied with the doctor, office, or their general experience. 

It could also be that a patient especially likes a doctor, but does not get the best quality of care. The doctor in the first example might get a bad review whereas the doctor in the second example might get 5-stars. But which doctor would you rather see?

Reviewers Are Not Medical Experts

Online doctor reviews are patient-based. This means that online doctor reviews are a great resource for assessing patient experience and satisfaction, but they typically come up short when it comes to assessing quality of care.

Who Holds Responsibility?

Negative patient experiences might have nothing to do with the doctor they are reviewing. It has been found that negative reviews are often more associated with factors such as long wait times or unhelpful secretaries than with the actual doctors. Consider this fact when searching for real doctor reviews.

Monetization of Online Doctor Reviews

Several of the most prominent sites that provide online doctor reviews take payments from doctors in exchange for additional promotion. This means that the most visible doctors might not be the best doctors, but are simply paying more money. The upside to this is that when doctors pay to be listed, they will have more complete information and are more likely to respond to comments and reviews.

Incomplete Listings

Some really excellent doctors might find listing/review services to be too much of an expense. Sites where doctors may pay to be listed will not have exhaustive lists, and might be missing some of the best doctors.

Inconsistencies Between Sites

If online doctor reviews were perfectly accurate, then the overall review should be the same from site to site, but the opposite is the case. The Hospital for Special Surgery conducted a study and found that there was little correlation between reviews of individual doctors between the sites.

Online Doctor Reviews Are Not Moderated

Anybody can post a review about a doctor, even someone who has never been to the doctor. And even for someone who has been to the doctor, the review might exaggerate or even lie. We have all heard the saying “the customer is always right,” but that is not always true. There is no way to assess the accuracy of a reviewer’s statements.

Selection Bias

Sometimes only patients with a positive (or negative) experience are driven to write a review. This type of bias could arise from doctors recommending patients to leave a review only if they expect a positive review.

Number of Reviews

Restaurants and retail products might have thousands of reviews. But sometimes for doctors, there are only a few. If there are less than half-a-dozen reviews, then do not take the overall rating as particularly representative.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

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Pros to Online Doctor Reviews

You may find you need to start seeing a new doctor or perhaps see a specialist that is new to you. When searching for a new doctor online, doctor reviews can be a helpful tool; just keep in mind their limitations.

  • Search filters – Many online doctor review services make it easy to apply filters to your searches, such as doctors within a certain radius and their specialties, languages spoken, and more.
  • Additional features – Some services might have additional benefits like booking appointments within their site.
  • Visibility – Online doctor reviews allow people to conduct broad searches of doctors. This can enable patients to discover many options they would not have otherwise.
  • Common themes – When reading online doctor reviews, sometimes common themes emerge. If negative reviews are frequently referencing the same problem (for example, coding errors on the bill), that suggests a doctor or their office is less reliable.

Where to Find Online Doctor Reviews

There are many options for browsing online doctor reviews. Some are specifically made for doctors and others are more general. The sites specifically made for doctors all provide an overview with patient reviews as well as search tools like filtering and sorting.

Overviews of doctors provide a paragraph about the doctor including their professional statements, biography, education, and background. You will also be able to see what types of insurance they take as well as office information (phone numbers, addresses, etc.). 

Most of these overviews include awards received, languages spoken, gender, locations or affiliations, and their specialties.

General review sites are comparatively limited, yet are still some of the most used. The overviews provided by these websites usually only provide office information and an overall 5-star rating without subcategories. 

Their filter and sorting options are also considerably limited compared to review sites that are doctor specific. These sites also differ in that they review clinics, organizations, and hospitals rather than individual doctors.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

PlushCare

Here at PlushCare, we pride ourselves in hiring the best online doctors. When you book an appointment on our website, you will see a list of doctors, available appointment times, and 5-star ratings. You can click on a doctor to view their years of experience, education, background, languages spoken, and patient reviews.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

Reviews and Modern Healthcare

While it’s smart to keep in mind the potential biases and other shortcomings when looking for the best online doctor reviews, they also grant us access to more information regarding our healthcare. Technology is transforming our healthcare system making it easier, more accessible, and more affordable than ever before.

Online healthcare platforms such as PlushCare take this to a new level. You can meet with a doctor online who will hear your symptoms and medical history, give you a diagnosis, and treatment plan, including prescriptions, all in a matter of minutes. Waiting rooms and wasted time on doctor appointments are a thing of the past. Experience better healthcare by booking an appointment today.


Read More About Online Doctor Reviews


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

Hospital for Special Surgery. Study Finds Little Consistency in Doctor Reviews on Three Physician Rating Websites. Accessed May 24th, 2021 at https://www.hss.edu/newsroom_study-finds-little-consistency-in-physician-ratings-websites.asp

Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Online Physician Reviews Do Not Reflect Patient Satisfaction Survey Responses. Accessed May 24th, 2021 at https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(18)30074-0/fulltext 

U.S. National Library of Medicine. Journal of Medical Internet Research. What Do Patients Say About Doctors Online? A Systematic Review of Studies on Patient Online Reviews. Accessed May 24th, 2021 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6475821/

United States Government. Care-Compare. Accessed on June 16,2021 at
https://www.medicare.gov/care-compare/?providerType=Hospital&redirect=true

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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