Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 32, Issue 6, pp 626–631 | Cite as

Physician and Patient Views on Public Physician Rating Websites: A Cross-Sectional Study

  • Alison M. Holliday
  • Allen Kachalia
  • Gregg S. Meyer
  • Thomas D. Sequist
Original Research



Numerical ratings and narrative comments about physicians are increasingly available online. These physician rating websites include independent websites reporting crowd-sourced data from online users and health systems reporting data from their internal patient experience surveys.


To assess patient and physician views on physician rating websites.


Cross-sectional physician (electronic) and patient (paper) surveys conducted in August 2015.


Eight hundred twenty-eight physicians (response rate 43%) affiliated with one of four hospitals in a large accountable care organization in eastern Massachusetts; 494 adult patients (response rate 34%) who received care in this system in May 2015.

Main Measures

Use and perceptions of physician rating websites.

Key Results

Fifty-three percent of physicians and 39% of patients reported visiting a physician rating website at least once. Physicians reported higher levels of agreement with the accuracy of numerical data (53%) and narrative comments (62%) from health system patient experience surveys compared to numerical data (36%) and narrative comments (36%) on independent websites. Patients reported higher levels of agreement with trusting the accuracy of data obtained from independent websites (57%) compared to health system patient experience surveys (45%). Twenty-one percent of physicians and 51% of patients supported posting narrative comments online for all consumers. The majority (78%) of physicians believed that posting narrative comments online would increase physician job stress; smaller proportions perceived a negative effect on the physician–patient relationship (46%), health care overuse (34%), and patient-reported experiences of care (33%). Over one-fourth of patients (29%) believed that posting narrative comments would cause them to be less open.


Physicians and patients have different views on whether independent or health system physician rating websites are the more reliable source of information. Their views on whether such data should be shared on public websites are also discordant.


quality improvement patient satisfaction patient engagement consumer health doctor–patient relationships 



Funder: Foster Family Fund

Prior presentation: Society of General Internal Medicine Annual Meeting, 5/13/2016.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they do not have a conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alison M. Holliday
    • 1
  • Allen Kachalia
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gregg S. Meyer
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Thomas D. Sequist
    • 2
    • 3
    • 5
  1. 1.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Brigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA
  3. 3.Partners HealthCare SystemBostonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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