Many Parents are Concerned About Fake Online MD Reviews

March 20, 2016

More than two-thirds of parents believe some online doctor reviews are fake, while slightly fewer say there are not enough ratings to make a good decision, according a report from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. 

More than half of parents also feel doctors may influence who leaves ratings.

“Online rating sites are becoming an increasingly common and potentially influential source of information for parents as they choose a doctor,” says lead author David Hanauer, M.D., a pediatrician at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. “Websites reviewing doctors are readily available, but concerns about how trustworthy they are may be preventing parents from using them broadly.”

Nearly one-third of parents report looking at online doctor ratings for themselves or a family member over the past year, the new report showed. Moms are more likely than dads to visit these websites – 36 percent compared to 22 percent, respectively.  Among parents who have considered online ratings, two-thirds say they either chose or avoided doctors based on what they read.

Among parents who selected a doctor because of ratings, 87 percent say the online ratings accurately reflected their subsequent experiences.

Older parents also generally had more concerns about online doctor ratings than younger parents. Of parents age 30 and older, 71 percent were concerned about the possibility of fake reviews compared to 59 percent under the age of 30.

“In order for online rating sites to become a more accepted and useful tool, doctors will need to be more engaged in the process, in ways that assure that ratings are authentic, ” says Hanauer, who is also a clinical associate professor at the U-M Medical School with a joint appointment in the School of Information and member of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

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