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Online Patient Ratings of Hand Surgeons
Chris J. Defrancesco, MD; Samir K. Trehan, MD; Joseph Nguyen, MD; Aaron Daluiski, MD
Hospital for Hosptial for Special Surgery, New York, NY

Introduction: The primary aim of this study was to evaluate online patient ratings (OPRs) of hand surgeons, hand surgeon online presence, and factors associated with positive OPRs and written comments.
Materials & Methods: 250 hand surgeons were randomly selected from the ASSH online member directory. Surgeon profiles were reviewed on three of the most commonly visited physician review websites (HealthGrades.com, Vitals.com and RateMDs.com) for demographic and rating data. Written comments were categorized as being related to professional competence, communication, cost, overall recommendation, staff, and office practice. Surgeon-specific data were also collected from Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Statistical analyses were conducted by a statistician.
Results: 245 hand surgeons (98.0%) had at least one OPR among the three websites. When Google searching hand surgeons, the mean number of top 10 results dedicated to physician review websites was 3.4. The mean number of ratings for each surgeon was 13.4, 8.3 and 1.9 and mean overall ratings were 4.0 out of 5, 3.3 out of 4, and 3.8 out of 5 stars on HealthGrades.com, Vitals.com, and RateMDs.com, respectively. Positive online ratings were significantly associated with a higher number of ratings and Castle Connolly status. No consistent correlations were observed between online ratings and surgeon gender, years in practice, practice type (i.e. private practice versus academics), and/or geographic region. “Online presence” was defined by five criteria – professional website, Facebook page, Twitter page, and personal profiles on Healthgrades.com and/or Vitals.com – and found to be the most strongly correlated variable with positive online ratings. Finally, positive written comments were significantly more often related to surgeon-dependent factors, while negative comments were related to surgeon-independent factors (see table).
Conclusions: Physician review websites feature prominently on Google and the vast majority of hand surgeons are rated online. This study highlights a fundamental difference in how patients and surgeons assess care quality.

  Mean Number of Written Patient Comments By Content Category
  Surgeon-Dependent Factors Surgeon-Independent Factors
Professional Competence Communication Cost Overall Assessment Office Staff Office Practice
RateMDs.com            
  4-5 stars (positive) 2.9 2.4 1.0 1.3 2.5 1.7
  3 stars 1.3 1.3 1.0 0 1.0 1.2
  1-2 stars (negative) 1.3 1.5 1.0 1.0 1.4 1.3
  P Value 0.02 0.01 N/A 0.27 0.12 0.34
Vitals.com            
  4 stars (positive) 2.5 2.8 1.5 1.3 2.0 1.4
  3 stars 1.2 1.1 1.0 1.0 1.1 1.0
  1-2 stars (negative) 1.8 1.8 1.1 1.1 1.6 1.7
  P Value 0.05 0.01 0.16 0.56 0.34 0.26


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