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ACPE Survey Finds Skepticism Relating to Online Doc Ratings

Concerns about ratings include methodological flaws, sample bias, and inaccuracy

THURSDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Physicians are skeptical of online ratings, and believe that few patients use them, according to a survey published by the American College of Physician Executives (ACPE).

Researchers from the ACPE surveyed 5,624 ACPE members, of which 730 responded, regarding their attitudes toward measuring the performance and quality of individual doctors.

According to the survey results, physicians are skeptical about ratings performed by agencies such as the National Committee for Quality Assurance and the Joint Commission, although these were viewed more favorably than consumer sites: 41 percent had neutral feelings, 29 percent said they were helpful, and 14 percent described them as a waste of time. With respect to online consumer Web sites, 12 percent believed that patient reviews were beneficial, while 29 percent believed that patients rarely used them and 26 percent considered them a nuisance. Some of the concerns expressed included use of invalid polling methodology, unscientific methodology, inaccuracy, and sampling bias. While a majority (69 percent) of those surveyed had checked their profile on an online consumer site, most also believed that patient use of these sites was low, with 55 percent believing that 25 percent or fewer patients have used a online physician rating site. Thirty-nine percent of those who checked their online profiles agreed with their ratings, 42 percent partially agreed, and 19 percent did not agree.

"Health care, like most other industries, has clearly entered an era where measurement and reporting have increasing importance," Peter Angood, M.D., chief executive officer of the ACPE, said in a statement. "This important new survey illustrates the strong concern among physician leaders about the quality and integrity of current reporting strategies and the data they are based upon."

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