More consumers consulting online rating sites before choosing a physician

USA Today reports that according to a research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “one in four” US consumers have consulted an online physician rating site “when picking a primary care doctor in 2012,” but only “five percent have rated a doctor themselves online.”

The AP reports, “The findings come from a nationally representative Internet-based survey of 2,137 adults,” which also revealed that approximately “a third of patients who viewed online sites sought out or avoided physicians based on their ratings.”

For its part, “the American Medical Association – the nation’s largest physicians’ group – is wary of the sites.”

AMA president Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, said, “Anonymous online opinions of physicians should be taken with a grain of salt, and should certainly not be a patient’s sole source of information when looking for a new physician.”

On its website, NBC News points out that even though rating sites for physicians are slowly “gaining traction,” the research letter still “found that a personal reference from family and friends was still more important to most people, as was whether a physician was accepted by the patient’s health insurance policy.”

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