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Doctor Online Reviews: It’s Love or Hate

Analysis of 1.5 million online reviews finds doctors are nearly 200% as likely than restaurants to receive 1-star reviews

Denver, Dec. 20, 2019 – Patients are much more likely to both publicly laud and lambaste their experiences with physicians than with restaurants and hotels, an analysis of 1.5 million Yelp restaurant, hotel and doctor online reviews.

While doctors, hotels and restaurants each average a 3.5-star rating out of 5 stars possible on the business review website, a doctor is 64% as likely to receive a 5-star review but 194% as likely to receive a 1-star review, according to research conducted by Technical Director Jonathan Stanley of Vanguard Communications, a national healthcare marketing and practice management consulting firm.

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The data suggests that while people’s experiences with doctors are distinctly polarizing, their expectations of restaurants and hotels are more nuanced, explained Stanley.

“Given the findings, a disappointing appetizer or a noisy corner room doesn’t appear as upsetting to restaurant and hotel patrons as a physician’s poor bedside manner or a billing error might be to a patient,” Stanley said.

Doctor online reviews carry 5 times the impact

However, the findings indicate that doctor online reviews do not rate generally better or worse than other businesses. Rather, the polarizing effects of a disappointing patient experience are more dangerous to medical practices than other businesses.

On average, a hotel receives 61 reviews and restaurants 27 reviews, but doctors average only 13. That means each online review for a doctor carries as much as five times more impact toward a medical practice’s overall rating.

Doctor online reviews have the least to do with medical care

Prior research by Vanguard Communications has found that disorganization, poor communication and other customer service complaints are the dominant ratings issues for doctors’ offices and hospitals.

“In the online age,” said Ron Harman King, CEO of Vanguard Communications, “healthcare consumers demand not just good clinical care but also customer service as good as that of four- and five-star hotels and restaurants.”

Overall, doctor online reviews are more positive than negative

While physicians may feel unfairly attacked online, patients are almost twice as likely statistically to give doctors good marks online as poor ones. Prior Vanguard research of 34,748 online patient reviews found that 66 percent awarded 4 and 5 stars, while only 34 percent gave 1 and 2 stars.

Research by the Pew Research Center has found that patients research healthcare online similarly to how they investigate the purchase of cars, homes or other big-ticket items – by starting at a search engine. They form initial perceptions based on a doctor’s internet presence, including online reviews, the practice’s website, and social media.

Media Contact: Lisa Long | 303.382.2999 | [email protected]

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About Vanguard Communications & Healthcare Process Improvement

Vanguard Communications & Medical Practice Improvement is a Denver-based firm specializing in the integration of digital marketing and patient education and communications, along with medical practice operational analysis and process improvement. Founded in 1994, Vanguard serves clients coast to coast in small to large private and academic medical practices.

Ó Vanguard Communications & Healthcare Process Improvement 2019