Patients rarely write online reviews about radiologists

Radiologists are significantly underrepresented on physician-rating websites, according to recent research published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Kirven Gilbert, MS, of the department of radiology and imaging services and the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, and colleagues performed the study, randomly selecting 1,000 diagnostic radiologists and tracking their rating information from five different popular websites.

Looking at HealthGrades, Healthcare Reviews, RateMDs, Kudzu and Yelp, the authors found that 197 of the 1,000 radiologists were profiled on any of the five sites. Just 24 appeared on two of the five sites, and no radiologists were profiled on more than two.

According to Gilbert and colleagues, radiologists have a legitimate reason to be concerned, especially considering the emphasis now being placed on quality and patient satisfaction.

“Patient satisfaction and provider transparency are being increasingly heralded as policy goals, which could affect patient referrals and future value-based payments,” the authors wrote. “In this context, such underrepresentation reinforces concerns about radiologists as invisible physicians, detracts from radiology’s value-added proposition, and could have a profound impact on the profession as it develops increasingly patient-centric delivery systems.”

Those radiologists who were rated did receive favorable reviews. When viewing all website ratings on a scale of 1 to 10, radiologists had a median of 8.5 while other physicians had a median of 5.

So what can radiologists do about this problem? The authors suggested that face-to-face interactions with physicians are likely the focus of most patients when they review their experience. Shifting the patient’s focus to other details about their care could help the often-ignored specialties gain more positive reviews and overall consideration.

“Opportunities are available for such groups to create their own survey metrics—making use of rating websites—to ensure appropriate evaluation,” the authors wrote. “For radiologists, for example, surveys could focus on workflow metrics (such as ease of making an appointment, timeliness of the examination, access to a final report) and radiologist availability for personal communication.”

Gilbert and colleagues also observed that radiologists could put more effort into spreading knowledge about their specialty through social media and other online resources.

“Collectively improving the specialty’s visibility, and delineating its value in such public venues, may serve to improve the overall online perception of radiologists,” the authors wrote.