More than ever, consumers rely on online reviews to guide their purchase decisions. These include decisions involving medical care and treatment options, like where to receive treatment from, who to call in case of an emergency, and where and who the best doctors are.
The patients who post online reviews for others to read, however, can sometimes be medical professionals’ harshest critics. In fact, a new study by medical marketing firm Vanguard Communications reveals an alarming new trend in which the highest educated and trained doctors seem to get the poorest online reviews – making it more critical than ever to invest resources in medical review monitoring.
Analyzing over 28,000 doctor and physician reviews posted on Yelp, Vanguard Communications found that – in terms of average ratings – healthcare consumers in the US are least satisfied with care given by psychiatrists, dermatologists, orthopedists, and family medicine doctors, while being fondest of naturopaths, audiologists, oncologists, and osteopathic physicians. (Check out the full rankings here.)
The study also indicates that as a healthcare specialist’s level of education and training increases, patient satisfaction levels decrease.
For example, the average patient rating on Yelp for a naturopathy specialist is 4.62 out of 5 stars. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, psychiatrists receive a paltry average rating of 3.08 out of 5.
The five specialties that enjoy the highest overall ratings (averaging 4.29 out of 5) do not require MD degrees, while doctors with the MD title have an average rating of only 3.80 out of 5.
“Does that mean more highly trained specialists deliver poorer customer service? We can’t say with any certainty, although we found a correlation,” said Vanguard Communications CEO Ron Harman King. “Our research to date (also) shows that patients complain online 4 times as often about a medical practice’s customer service – such as receptionists’ cordiality and doctors’ bedside manners – than about a doctor’s ability to heal.”
There are a number of possible explanations for why the results of the study turned out this way. Perhaps the cases of highly trained healthcare specialists are typically more difficult than those taken on by those without the same level of education and training; or perhaps the bigger work environments where many MD holders practice contribute to the patient experience being less personalized.
Whatever the reasons are, the implications of the study are clear: professionals and providers engaged actively in medical review monitoring – that is, tracking patient reviews and responding to feedback – stand to gain the kinds of benefits that boost online reputation, far more than those who are not tuned in. Regardless of your medical specialty, make it a point to listen closely and respond promptly to what patients are saying on online review sites like Yelp, Vitals, Healthgrades, RateMDs, and more. To get started, check out our guide: “Doctors, Hospitals, and Healthcare Marketers and Organizations: A List of Online Review Sites You Track and Manage.”