Vitals Analysis of Doctor Reviews Shows Customer Service Trumps Medical Expertise

Analysis indicates overwhelming majority of reviews are positive

See the related word cloud

JULY 16, 2014 – LYNDHURST, NJ – The practice of medicine requires extensive training and relies on hard science. And yet, the attributes valued most by patients when rating and reviewing their doctors are more often those softer measures not taught in medical school. The Vitals Index analyzed 1,000 recent reviews of doctors by their patients and found that first impressions matter greatly to patients. The words “office” and “staff” were two of the most common words used. Patients also mentioned “waits” at the office.

Interpersonal skills and bedside manner experiences with the doctor were also frequently discussed in reviews. The words “called,” “explained” and “listened” each appeared over 100 times.  In contrast, the word diagnosed only appeared 40 times.

“These softer metrics reinforce the importance of a patient feeling heard and valued,” said Mitch Rothschild, CEO of Vitals. “They’re more than just a feel-good measure, too. Studies show that the better the patient experience, the better the clinical outcome.” (Source)

Rothschild added, “The brass ring of reviews, of course, includes hard outcomes data, and fortunately more information to that end is becoming available.  However, our analysis suggests that even with select outcomes data available, customer-service will remain of great importance to the doctor-patient relationship.”

Doctors need to take notice. Increasingly, patients are relying more and more on online ratings and reviews when choosing a doctor. A recent study that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Society found that about 25 percent of U.S. adults consult online doctor-rating sites, and more than one-third of them went to a doctor – or avoided one – based on the ratings.

Some physicians have met the ‘Yelpification’ of health care with skepticism, but Vitals analysis found that an overwhelming majority of reviews were positive. The appearance of positive words outnumbered negative words three to one. People complained about rudeness and feeling rushed. But more people noted that their physicians were compassionate, friendly and knowledgeable.

“Across industries, reviews are popular because they provide easy to understand recommendations,” said Rothschild. “In health care, first-hand experiences help patients who face decisions that are more complicated and higher stakes make better choices.”

About Vitals

Vitals is reinventing the way people choose doctors and medical facilities. We provide increased transparency to cost, quality and access information to support effective decision making. Vitals brings together actionable data, online tools and an engaging consumer experience that empowers consumers to make more informed, higher-quality and lower-cost health care decisions.  Through health plans, hospitals and our leading consumer websites, Vitals helps more than 150 million people each year access information for better, more affordable care. The Vitals Index is an ongoing report about the state of doctor-patient relationships based on proprietary data and surveys.

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