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Doctor Reviews Posted to Hospital Websites More Flattering Than Independent Sites

News  |  By Alexandra Wilson Pecci  
   March 12, 2018

Researchers found physician reviews on hospital websites were more numerous and favorable than those posted on independent rating sites.

A study at Hospital for Special Surgery found a discrepancy between doctor reviews provided by hospital websites and those posted on independent physician rating websites, such as and

Investigators found a much higher number of reviews and more favorable physician ratings overall on the hospital websites. The research was presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

The study was also published in the journal Orthopedics in August 2017. The study included 12 hospitals or medical practices that were publicly reporting patient satisfaction data collected for their orthopedic surgeons as of August 2016.

Investigators identified 415 orthopedic surgeons with online patient ratings at the following institutions: Duke University, Midwest Orthopedics at Rush, Vanderbilt University, Northwell Health, Cleveland Clinic, University of Utah, University of Arkansas, Stanford University, University of Pittsburgh, Wake Forest University, Southern California Orthopedic Institute, and Piedmont Healthcare.

The hospital surveys were administered at the time of the office visit or sent to randomly selected patients by email or regular mail. Independent third parties experienced in the creation and evaluation of healthcare surveys were used by most hospitals to gather the information.

Patient response rates ranged from 18% to 30%. Most institutions required a minimum of 30 ratings within the past 12 to 18 months for the physician's ratings to be made public. The majority of the institutions had a stated policy of publishing all physician ratings, including negative reviews and comments, as long as no offensive, profane, or slanderous remarks were made and there was no violation of patient privacy or confidentiality.

Researchers compared the ratings reported for each doctor posted on the hospital websites with the physician's ratings on four commercial websites:,,, and

"Compared to commercial ratings websites," the researchers said, "we found that provider-initiated patient satisfaction surveys yielded a higher number of ratings for each doctor, higher average patient satisfaction scores, and a lower percentage of negative comments."

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.

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