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Online Reviews of Hand Surgeons
Jason Silvestre, BS; L. Scott Levin, MD
Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA

Background: The online reputation of a practicing hand surgeon is becoming increasingly important. Physician review websites (PRWs) offer patients an opportunity to search their surgeon, but many providers argue these ratings can be misused. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the landscape of online reviews in a national cohort of hand surgeons.
Methods: Names of practicing hand surgeons in the 10 most populous American cities were obtained from the search feature of the American Board of Medical Specialties. Gender, age, region, city size, pedigree, and practice type were recorded. A Google search was performed with “[first name] [last name] hand surgeon.” The number of reviews and scaled rating scores (out of 5) were recorded from the three most popular PRWs. A “very poor” rating was defined as a “1/5” review on either Vitals or RateMDs. Data were collected during December 2014 and comparisons were made via Mann-Whitney and Kruskal-Wallis tests.
Results: Of 220 hand surgeons, 92.3% had a profile on HealthGrades, 89.6% on Vitals, and 81.9% on RateMDs. The median search result position for academic website was 1, HealthGrades 2, personal website 3, and Vitals 5. Ratings were based on 12.6 +/- 9.1 reviews for HealthGrades, 10.5 +/- 12.5 for Vitals, and 4.1 +/- 5.1 for RateMDs respectively. Out of a maximal score of 5, average scores were 4.1 +/- 0.7 for HealthGrades, 4.3 +/- 0.7 for Vitals, and 4.0 +/- 1.1 for RateMDs. 44.1% of hand surgeons had at least one “very poor” rating on Vitals and 20.8% on RateMDs. No difference was seen in the median number or quality of reviews with regards to gender, age, US region, city size, pedigree (plastic vs ortho trained), or practice type (p > 0.05).
Conclusions: Awareness of online reviews may help hand surgeons better manage their online reputation. While mostly positive, a significant number of negative reviews exist. We suggest hand surgeons monitor these sites given their high visibility and potential influence on patients.


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