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Forget What Your Friends Say —Googling Your Child’s Pediatrician

Filed under : Healthy Kids

By: Carolina Pichardo

Parents are going with online ratings to select their child’s pediatrician. According to researchers in U-M Medical School, those numbers are only increasing. Here’s what else they found.


It seems that long, gone are the days when parents chose a pediatrician based on their friends’ or family recommendations. These days, it seems that online ratings reigns supreme. According to a recent U-M research, published in Pediatrics, almost three-quarters (74%) of parents are aware of online rating sites for physicians, and more than one-quarter (28%) have used it to choose a healthcare provider for their children.

The researchers, which surveyed 1,619 parents about how online ratings influenced their healthcare provider choice, gave parents the following three scenarios designed to measure the impact of online ratings on their decision to select a physician for their children.

First: Parents were told a doctor who took their health insurance was recommended by a neighbor.

Second: They were told that the neighbor-recommended doctor had one of the top ratings on a physician-rating Web site.

Third: They were told the neighbor-recommended doctor had one of the lowest physician ratings on the website.

Results: Just a neighbor’s recommendation, the first scenario, spurred 22 percent of the parents to say they’d choose the recommended physician based on that. However, when combined with the high online rating, that percentage doubled to 46 percent stating they’d be very likely to choose the recommended physician.
Meanwhile, only 3 percent said they were very likely to choose the physician based on a neighbor’s recommendation with a low online rating.

“This happens despite persistent questions about how trustworthy these sites actually are,” says lead author, David A. Hanauer, a primary care pediatrician at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the U-M Medical School.

With online ratings gaining such a stride, some physicians have attempted to prevent patients from leaving comments by having them sign a “contract of mutual privacy” that forbids them from commenting on rating sites without permission. According to the researchers, other physicians have even sued patients for posting negative comments on ratings sites.

What’s your experience with online ratings for pediatricians? Have you used one?

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