10 findings on how patients use online reviews

According to a survey conducted by Software Advice, 72 percent of patients used online reviews as a first step to seeking providers.

The survey included responses from American patients regarding use of online review sites for healthcare purposes. Researchers aimed to provide clinicians and vendors with insight into how patients are using online reviews to make decisions regarding care.


Key survey findings included:

  • 82 percent of patients used online reviews to view or post comments and ratings of physicians.
  • 54 percent of patient’s report using online review sites “often” or “sometimes,” and 28 percent said they used them “rarely.”
  • 72 percent of patients used online reviews as a first step in choosing a provider.
  • 19 percent use review sites to validate the choice of a physician they have selected.
  • 48 percent of patients would go out of their insurance network for a physician with positive reviews.
  • 52 percent of patients report writing “very positive” or “somewhat positive” reviews, 11 percent wrote “neutral” reviews and 7 percent wrote “very” or “somewhat negative” reviews.
  • 65 percent of patients feel it’s “very” or “moderately important” for doctors to post a response to a negative review.
  • 28 percent of patients rated “patient rating scores” as the most important review information, followed by “quality of care” (26 percent) and “physician background” (24 percent).
  • 24 percent of patient rated “staff friendliness” and “ease of scheduling appointments” as the most valuable administrative information on review sites, followed by “information about wait times” (20 percent) and “office environment and cleanliness” (16 percent).
  • 91 percent of patients reported to be “moderately likely” to choose one similarly qualified doctor over another based on positive reviews.

“Our survey shows that medical practices must keep an eye on their existing online reviews,” concluded the survey. “But providers should also be proactive about recruiting more, lest they miss opportunities to attract or retain patients. When it comes to how patients use online reviews, most focus on writing and reading the positive stuff—so the reward eclipses the risk of occasional negative feedback. Negative or fake reviews are still a concern. However, our data shows they are not as common as doctors may think and can be mitigated by responding directly to the reviewer or contacting the reviews site.”