Do Online Reviews of Physicians Reflect Healthcare Outcomes?

  • Danish H. Saifee
  • Indranil Bardhan
  • Zhiqiang (Eric) ZhengEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10347)


Patients are increasingly using online reviews to choose physicians. However, it is not known whether online reviews accurately capture the true quality of care provided by physicians. This research addresses this issue by empirically examining the link between online reviews of a physician and the actual clinical outcomes of patients treated by the physician. Specifically, this study uses online reviews from, and combines that data with patient health outcomes data collected from Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council. Our econometric analyses show that there is no clear relationship between online reviews of physicians and their patients’ health outcomes, such as readmission and ER visit rates. Our results imply that online reviews may not be as helpful in the context of healthcare as they are for other experience goods such as books, movies, or hotels. Our findings have important implications for healthcare providers, healthcare review websites, and healthcare consumers.


Online reviews Healthcare Clinical outcomes Topic modeling Sentiment analysis Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) 


  1. Bardach, N.S., Asteria-Penaloza, R., Boscardin, W.J., Dudley, R.A.: The relationship between commercial website ratings and traditional hospital performance measures in the USA. BMJ Qual. Saf. 22(3), 194–202 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blei, D.M., Ng, A.Y., Jordan, M.I.: Latent Dirichlet Allocation. J. Mach. Learn. Res. 3, 993–1022 (2003)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  3. Boulding, W., Glickman, S.W., Manary, M., Schulman, K.A., Staelin, R.: Relationship between patient satisfaction with inpatient care and hospital readmission within 30 days. Am. J. Managed Care 17(1), 41–48 (2011)Google Scholar
  4. Chevalier, J.A., Mayzlin, D.: The effect of word of mouth on sales: online book reviews. J. Mark. Res. 43(3), 345–354 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Doyle, C., Lennox, L., Bell, D.: A systematic review of evidence on the links between patient satisfaction and clinical safety and effectiveness. BMJ Open 3(1), 1–18 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gao, G.G., Greenwood, B.N., Agarwal, R., McCullough, J.S.: Vocal minority and silent majority: how do online ratings reflect population perceptions of quality? MIS Q. 39(3), 565–589 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Glickman, S.W., Boulding, W., Manary, M., Staelin, R., Roe, M.T., Wolosin, R.J., Ohman, E.M., Peterson, E.D., Schulman, K.A.: Patient satisfaction and its relationship with clinical quality and inpatient mortality in acute myocardial infarction. Circ. Cardiovasc. Qual. Outcomes 3(2), 188–195 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gray, B., Vandergrift, J.L., Gao, G.G., McCullough, J.S., Lipner, R.S.: Website ratings of physicians and their true quality of care. JAMA Internal Med. 175(2), 291–293 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hanauer, D.A., Zheng, K., Singer, D.C., Gebremariam, A., Davis, M.M.: Public awareness, perception, and use of online physician rating sites. J. Am. Med. Assoc. 311(7), 734–735 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Nielsen, F.Å.: A new ANEW: evaluation of a word list for sentiment analysis in microblogs. In: Proceedings of the ESWC2011 Workshop on ‘Making Sense of Microposts’: Big Things Come in Small Package, CEUR Workshop Proceedings, no. 718, pp. 93–98 (2011)Google Scholar
  11. Vermeulen, I.E., Seegers, D.: Tried and tested: the impact of online hotel reviews on online hotel reviews on consumer consideration. Tour. Manag. 30(1), 123–127 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Danish H. Saifee
    • 1
  • Indranil Bardhan
    • 1
  • Zhiqiang (Eric) Zheng
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Jindal School of ManagementUniversity of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA

Personalised recommendations