New poll: Parents wary of online doctor ratings

C.S. Mott Children's Hospital: 30% of parents have used rating sites

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – For many, checking online reviews has become nearly routine for decisions on everything from cars to restaurants. But when it comes to choosing a doctor, the majority of parents aren’t convinced online ratings are reliable -- or even real, a new national poll shows.

More than two-thirds of parents believe some online doctor reviews are fake, while slightly fewer say there are not enough ratings to make a good decision, according to this month’s report from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. More than half of parents also feel doctors may influence who leaves ratings.

Nearly one-third of parents report looking at online doctor ratings for themselves or a family member over the past year. Moms are more likely than dads to visit these websites -- 36 percent compared to 22 percent, respectively.  Among parents who have considered online ratings, two-thirds say they either chose or avoided doctors based on what they read.

Among parents who selected a doctor because of ratings, 87 percent say the online ratings accurately reflected their subsequent experiences.

Older parents also generally had more concerns about online doctor ratings than younger parents. Of parents age 30 and older, 71 percent were concerned about the possibility of fake reviews compared to 59 percent under the age of 30.