Doctor Rankings – Make Sure Your Patients Are In Good Hands

As we learned in last week’s “Hospital rankings – Not All Hospitals Are Created Equal”, there are plenty of online resources available to patients seeking hospital reviews and rankings. But no matter how great the hospital, the deciding factor in anyone’s quality of healthcare will be how professional, or unprofessional, their doctor is. This also matters to healthcare executives (and therefore, you), who use doctor rankings, reviews and public opinions in the hiring process.

Good and bad news for those seeking doctor rankings and reviews online

The good news:
There’s an abundance of doctor ranking sites available on the Web.
The bad news: Many of them are biased, lack transparency or are self promotional.

In an interesting CBS news article titled “Can You Trust Online Doctor Rankings?”, a couple relates their frustration in searching for valid, unbiased doctor reviews online. They discovered that on the bigger sites, doctors were ranked by their insurance companies, on a tier-based scale of 1-3; Tier 1 being the lowest, Tier 3 being the highest. When asked how the rankings were determined, insurance companies stated that they “rate doctors based on quality and cost.” This, to the patient, means very little. Rankings could be influenced by a variety of hidden factors such as skewed data, biased reviews or self-serving interests.

Of course, insurance company rankings aren’t the only doctor rankings available. In general , there are four different types of doctor ranking sites.

  1. Insurance Company Sites – as discussed above
  2. Private or non profit sites – These sites are the ones free of charge, available to the general online public. These include sites of professional organizations that certify doctors, listings that doctors pay to be included in, and those that are advertising based. This category also includes sites where patients submit uncensored doctor reviews and comments.
  3. Private ownership sites that charge a fee to patients who want to access their information and doctor rankings.
  4. Government sites that provide state licensed doctor listings.

As goes for any type of public ranking system, there will never be a completely bias-free and completely accurate list of doctor rankings. In our experience, however, the most accurate data comes from sites where patients submit the doctor reviews themselves. This provides a level of transparency for readers, and gives details and examples as to why the ranking was given.

Some doctor ranking websites where the patients do the ranking:

  • Dr. – Patients take a short, 5 minute satisfaction survey in which they anonymously rate staff, doctor and patient care. Ratings are based on a 1-10 scale. Visitors can also look up doctors ratings by specialty or geographic location.
  • – Patients are the ones giving the doctors a checkup at RateMDs. With almost 900,000 doctor rankings, searchable by area, visitors are sure to find the reviews they’re looking for. What sets this site apart is that they clearly state in their FAQs that they are not affiliated with any medical organizations, but instead are patients themselves who wanted to 1- voice their frustrating experiences with doctors and 2- help others who are seeking comparative reviews while choosing a doctor.
  • – Patients can view a doctors’ specialty, education history, office information, insurance rates and awards received, as well as view reviews submitted by past patients.

Of course, there is no “one stop shop” to finding the right doctor. In fact, with something as important as you or your patients’ lives, it’s a no brainer that you would take an integrated approach to your research.

We recommend you also:

  • Check out the doctors’ personal websites or blogs.
  • Ask your primary physician or past doctors for their recommendations.
  • Ask friends and family if they’ve heard anything about the prospective doctor.
  • Do a background check to make sure they have no medical malpractice records. Skeletons in the closet are NOT okay when it comes to your doctor.