What Nearly 7 Million Online Reviews Say About the Doctor-Patient Relationship

Healthcare consumerism has compelled physician practices, hospitals, and health systems to reorient their care models with patients at the center, as well as to offer the access, functionality, and convenience modern consumers expect.

With this convergence, the healthcare industry is beginning to recognize the value consumers place on access to easily accessible and transparent information and services. In the same way consumers use OpenTable to reserve a table at a favorite restaurant, go to Amazon to make purchases, or visit TripAdvisor to book a hotel, they expect the healthcare industry to provide convenient access to accurate information and empower patients to make more informed decisions about their care.

In an unprecedented study, Healthgrades and Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) have analyzed nearly 7 million patient reviews and comments submitted about providers by Healthgrades visitors. The analysis reveals the factors patients consistently cite as being most important to their overall experience with a provider.

The analysis found that:

  • Overall, patients cite non-clinical factors as being important in their experience with a provider. More than 50 percent mention at least one of these factors: compassion, comfort, patience, personality, and bedside manner. And almost one quarter (23 percent) of comments mention at least one of these factors: knowledge, time, insurance, appointment scheduling, and communication.
  • There is not a significant difference in how patients rate their physician by gender, though female patients rate their male doctors slightly more favorably than male patients who rate their female doctors.
  • In all of the nearly 7 million submitted star ratings on Healthgrades, patient feedback about their doctors is overwhelmingly positive, and the average star rating for a doctor is 4-stars.
  • In both positive and negative open-comment reviews, patients place top importance on the time a provider spent with them, particularly as an indicator of the doctor’s willingness to answer questions, listen to concerns, and make sure patients fully understood their condition or procedure.
  • Of the attributes most commonly mentioned in a review, the topic cited most frequently in both a positive or negative review is the interaction the patient has with a doctor’s staff.

The research provides a snapshot of what consumers say about their doctors, as well as spotlights opportunities for physician practices, hospitals, and health systems to serve patients more holistically and enhance personal aspects of care.

Liz Boten is Senior Director, Corporate Communications for Healthgrades.

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