(NEW YORK) -- Doctors might not appreciate them but that's not stopping more prospective patients from consulting online ratings before they select a physician. In a survey of 2,100 Americans conducted by the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, two-thirds of respondents are aware that doctor-rating sites such as Health Grades and Rate MDs exist while 25 percent of respondents say they used at least one such website during the past year.
Lead researcher, Dr. David Hanauer, says the sites are becoming increasingly popular since 35 percent of users chose their doctor due to a good rating while 37 percent admitted they rejected a physician because the ratings were not good.
However, Hanauer would not speculate whether this was a positive or negative development since "We don't really know how trustworthy the ratings on these sites are."
Part of the problem is that if only a few patients fill out surveys, it could greatly skew the overall ratings. Furthermore, one bad review could have an extremely detrimental effect on a doctor's business.
However, Hanauer admits that patients don't have many options if they're unfamiliar with a physician so as a result, "these sites do seem to be filling a void."
Yet, there are millions who don't use online physician ratings and of that group, 43 percent stated that they don't trust the information.
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