Survey: 9 percent of Americans use doctor ratings sites

By Aditi Pai
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About 9 percent of Americans received comparative information about doctors from a ratings website like HealthGrades.com, Yelp.com, or Angie’s List, according to a recent survey of about 1,000 conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Within the group, 905 were insured privately, publicly or had another type of insurance and 94 were not insured.

AP doctor comparison survey

Twenty three percent of Americans have sought out and received information in the past year that compares doctors. Within this group, most people, over 60 percent, heard comparative information about doctors from friends and family. After that, 51 percent read about comparative information in a newspaper or magazine, 50 percent heard this information from a doctor, and 46 percent got it from a health insurance company.

Thirty six percent of those who sought our and received comparative data, saw the information on an online advocacy or community group and 32 percent saw it on a government website.

But when the survey asked if respondents used the comparative information about doctors to make decisions, close to half used the information and half didn't, which means only 11 percent of Americans both saw comparative information about doctors and also used it. Most of the people who used the information were the ones who got it from their friends and family (63 percent), followed by those who got it from a ratings website (53 percent), their doctor (53 percent), or on an online advocacy or community group (48 percent).

The survey also found that Americans find it hard to access information about the cost of care. When asked about how easy it is to find price information for providers, 32 percent said it was easy, 38 percent said it was difficult, and 24 percent didn't think it was easy or difficult. When asked how easy it was to find sources that compared cost as well as quality of care, 44 percent found it difficult, 22 percent said it wasn't easy/difficult, and only 26 percent said it was easy.