Timothy J. Daskivich

Timothy J. Daskivich

Online review sites that rate doctors tend to be skewed and can mislead patients, according to a new study by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Researchers at the Beverly Grove hospital have concluded that distortion in physician satisfaction scores on online third-party review sites may have significant consequences for consumers.

“Patients put so much trust in ratings, and the stakes are much higher than simply choosing a restaurant,” said study co-author Dr. Timothy J. Daskivich, director of Health Services Research in the Department of Surgery. “It’s important to interpret this data correctly because selecting the right physician can have a serious impact on health and well-being.”

The Cedar-Sinai researchers conducted a statistical analysis between October 2014 and March 2017 of hundreds of thousands of physician reviews on Healthgrades, a consumer ratings website.

The study, published in the “Journal of Medical Internet Research,” found that overall physician satisfaction ratings tended to skew positive and fall within a narrow range – such as four and five stars.

The result: Scores that appear high might actually be just average or low, effectively misleading patients, the Cedars-Sinai researchers said. They recommended third-party review sites include median star ratings to help consumers.

Health business reporter Dana Bartholomew can be reached at dbartholomew@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @_DanaBart.