It has become commonplace for patients to access online reviews of physicians when making choices about health care, just as any consumer would in today's computer-dependent world. Previous studies have shown that online reviews of physicians are generally positive. However, 1 negative review has the potential to adversely affect business and reputations.
To characterize the online presence of plastic surgeons in Southern California as portrayed by physician rating websites (PRWs).
An extensive online database of board-certified plastic surgeons was used to generate a list of surgeons within a 50-mile radius of Pomona, CA. Ratings from the PRWs HealthGrades.com, Vitals.com, and UCompareHealthcare.com were cataloged by number of reviews and ratings.
Two hundred sixty-three surgeons were evaluated with the most-represented cities being Beverly Hills (N = 47), Los Angeles (N = 31), and Newport Beach (N = 27). Ninety-seven percent of the surgeons were rated on at least 1 of the 3 PRWs chosen. In general, surgeons were rated highly, with a mean rating of 85%, SD, 14% (P < 0.01), with a mean of 11.0 ratings per PRW, SD 10.9 (P < 0.01). Total online ratings ranged from 0 to 222 per surgeon. The median number of total reviews was 25 and the mean rating for those surgeons above and below the median were equivocal, at 86% and 85%, respectively (P = 0.284).
In this study, we found that plastic surgeons in Southern California have an online presence that can be influenced by their patients; they should be aware of this and conscious of their online reputations. Overall, the ratings were high, regardless of the number of reviews.
From the Loma Linda University, Department of Plastic Surgery, Loma Linda, CA.
Received August 15, 2014, and accepted for publication, after revision February 10, 2015.
Conflicts of interest and sources of funding: none declared.
Reprints: Subhas Gupta MD, PhD, FACS, LLU, Department of Plastic Surgery, 11175 Campus Street, Coleman Pavilion, Suite 21126, Loma Linda, CA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.