25 August 2017
Physician rating websites (PRWs) have been developed to allow all patients to rate, comment, and discuss physicians’ quality online as a source of information for others searching for a physician. At the beginning of 2010, a sample of 298 randomly selected physicians from the physician associations in Hamburg and Thuringia were searched for on 6 German PRWs to examine the frequency of ratings and evaluation tendencies.
The objective of this study was to examine (1) the number of identifiable physicians on German PRWs; (2) the number of rated physicians on German PRWs; (3) the average and maximum number of ratings per physician on German PRWs; (4) the average rating on German PRWs; (5) the website visitor ranking positions of German PRWs; and (6) how these data compare with 2010 results.
A random stratified sample of 298 selected physicians from the physician associations in Hamburg and Thuringia was generated. Every selected physician was searched for on the 6 PRWs (Jameda, Imedo, Docinsider, Esando, Topmedic, and Medführer) used in the 2010 study and a PRW, Arztnavigator, launched by Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse (AOK).
The results were as follows: (1) Between 65.1% (194/298) on Imedo to 94.6% (282/298) on AOK-Arztnavigator of the physicians were identified on the selected PRWs. (2) Between 16.4% (49/298) on Esando to 83.2% (248/298) on Jameda of the sample had been rated at least once. (3) The average number of ratings per physician ranged from 1.2 (Esando) to 7.5 (AOK-Arztnavigator). The maximum number of ratings per physician ranged from 3 (Esando) to 115 (Docinsider), indicating an increase compared with the ratings of 2 to 27 in the 2010 study sample. (4) The average converted standardized rating (1=positive, 2=neutral, and 3=negative) ranged from 1.0 (Medführer) to 1.2 (Jameda and Topmedic). (5) Only Jameda (position 317) and Medführer (position 9796) were placed among the top 10,000 visited websites in Germany.
Whereas there has been an overall increase in the number of ratings when summing up ratings from all 7 analyzed German PRWs, this represents an average addition of only 4 new ratings per physician in a year. The increase has also not been even across the PRWs, and it would be advisable for the users of PRWs to utilize a number of PRWs to ascertain the rating of any given physician. Further research is needed to identify barriers for patients to rate their physicians and to assist efforts to increase the number of ratings on PRWs to consequently improve the fairness and practical importance of PRWs.