Does experience matter? A meta-analysis of physician rating websites of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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PURPOSE: To perform a systematic review evaluating online ratings of Orthopaedic Surgeons to determine: (1) the number of reviews per surgeon by website, (2) whether the number of reviews and rate of review acquisition correlated with years in practice, and (3) whether the use of ratings websites varied based on the surgeons' geographic region of practice.

METHODS: The USA was divided into nine geographic regions, and the most populous city in each region was selected. HealthGrades and the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) database were used to identify and screen (respectively) all Orthopaedic Surgeons within each of these nine cities. These surgeons were divided into three "age" groups by years since board certification (0-10, 10-20, and 20-30 years were assigned as Groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively). An equal number of surgeons were randomly selected from each region for final analysis. The online profiles for each surgeon were reviewed on four online physician rating websites (PRW, i.e. HealthGrades, Vitals, RateMDs, Yelp) for the number of available patient reviews. Descriptive statistics, analysis of variance (ANOVA), and Pearson correlations were used.

RESULTS: Using HealthGrades, 2802 "Orthopaedic Surgeons" were identified in nine cities. However, 1271 (45%) of these were not found in the ABOS board certification database. After randomization, a total of 351 surgeons were included in the final analysis. For these 351 surgeons, the mean number of reviews per surgeon found on all four websites was 9.0 ± 14.8 (range 0-184). The mean number of reviews did not differ between the three age groups (p > 0.05) with 8.7 ± 14.4, (2) 10.3 ± 18.3, and (3) 8.0 ± 10.8 for Groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively. However, the rate that reviews were obtained (i.e. reviews per surgeon per year) was significantly higher (p < 0.001) in Group 1 (2.6 ± 7.7 reviews per year) compared to Group 2 (1.4 ± 2.4) and Group 3 (1.1 ± 1.4). There was no correlation between the number of reviews and years in practice (R < 0.001), and there was a poor correlation between number of reviews and regional population (R = 0.199).

CONCLUSIONS: The number of reviews per surgeon did not differ significantly between the three defined age groups based on years in practice. However, surgeons with less than 10 years in practice were accumulating reviews at a significantly higher rate. Interestingly nearly half of "Orthopaedic Surgeons" listed were not found to be ABOS-certified Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMusculoskeletal Surgery
StateE-pub ahead of print - Aug 29 2017


  • Journal Article


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