We are writing to highlight a shift in care dynamics and to encourage inquiry in this area. Increasingly, individuals reference online patient ratings when selecting a physician.[1,2] The growing influence of online ratings raises questions about their potential impacts on ophthalmic practice.
For one, online reviews may have consequences on physician selection.[1,2] There is value in discerning the factors that drive both positive and negative ratings, such that the former can be encouraged and the latter minimized. Concerns have also been raised about how practice setting (e.g., academic vs. private) and other external forces (e.g., gender and racial biases) might affect physicians’ online ratings.
Studies of online ratings have yielded clinically relevant insights across a variety of specialties.[3–5] In ophthalmology, though, the factors driving patient ratings remain largely unclear. In an exploratory study, we evaluated whether certain ophthalmologist- and practice-related factors influenced patient satisfaction, as reported in online ratings. With this aim, we analyzed Yelp reviews of ophthalmology practices (from 2013 to 2020) located in New York City, NY (n = 150). Binary logistic regression was used to determine whether certain factors increased the likelihood of receiving low versus high ratings.
When patients knew the name of their treating ophthalmologist, online ratings were more likely to be high than low (odds ratio [OR] = 5.57, P = 0.01). Ophthalmology practices were more likely to respond to reviews after receiving low ratings (OR = 0.238, P = 0.04). Unlike similar studies in other specialties, ratings of ophthalmologists did not show associations with practice type, physician race, or physician gender.
We relay this exploratory data in the spirit of cultivating interest and generating hypotheses. Given the increasing importance of online ratings, we encourage further study to clarify the driving factors behind high ratings and to develop strategies to respond effectively to low ratings.
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Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
1. Hanauer DA, Zheng K, Singer DC, Gebremariam A, Davis MM. Public awareness, perception, and use of online physician rating sites. JAMA 2014;311:734–5.
2. Gao GG, McCullough JS, Agarwal R, Jha AK. A changing landscape of physician quality reporting:Analysis of patients'online ratings of their physicians over a 5-year period. J Med Internet Res 2012;14:e38. doi:10.2196/jmir. 2003.
3. Wachs D, Lorah V, Boynton A, Hertzler A, Nichols B, Kraft J, et al. Online ratings of primary care physicians:Comparison of gender, training, and specialty. J Patient Exp 2021;8:23743735211007700.
4. Smith RJ, Lipoff JB. Evaluation of dermatology practice online reviews:Lessons from qualitative analysis. JAMA Dermatol 2016;152:153–7.
5. Pike CW, Zillioux J, Rapp D. Online ratings of urologists:Comprehensive analysis. J Med Internet Res 2019;21:e12436.