Vitals Analyzes 6 Million Reviews: Reveals What Patients Say About Doctors

Seventeen percent of doctors only get a one-star rating

(Photo: Business Wire)

LYNDHURST, N.J.--()--While every other industry has embraced the creed, “The customer is always right,” health care has approached treating the patient as a consumer with skepticism.

Yet, as rising deductibles and premiums force patients to shoulder more cost for their care, consumers are getting choosier about where they spend their money. And, just like they do for nearly every other major decision, consumers turn to reviews to help them sort out their options. In fact, in a recent survey Vitals found that patient feedback was second in importance to a doctor’s treatment philosophy when choosing a doctor.

In general, 75 percent of doctors are given top marks by their patients (4 or 5 stars). Yet, 17 percent of doctors are given the lowest rating – 1 star – by patients. That correlates to data from The National Practitioner Data Bank, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, that reports 15 percent of doctors have at least one malpractice payout.

Data from the National Practitioner Data Bank includes information on medical malpractice payouts and certain levels of disciplinary actions in the U.S. for physicians and other licensed health care practitioners. However, only hospitals, doctors, law enforcement, insurance companies, and a few other select groups are granted access to the data.

“We don’t view this as a coincidence,” said Mitch Rothschild, Founder and Chairman of Vitals. “What that tells us is that one out of every six doctors aren’t meeting patient needs – and reviews left by patients can help consumers avoid these doctors.”

While most 1-star reviews don’t mention how a doctor diagnoses and medically treats a patient – the stuff that malpractice lawsuits are based on – they do reveal another dark side. Common words had to do with negative patient experiences. People complained about dirty “offices” or didn’t like what a doctor had “told” them. “Appointments” were hard to make and “calls” were never returned.

Similarly, an analysis of words used in all doctor reviews reveals that a patient’s experience before even seeing the doctor greatly impacts overall satisfaction. Looking across all reviews, words like “time,” “staff” and “office” were the top words used. The word “care” also ranked on top, pointing to the importance of a good bedside manner. And people talked about having a relationship with their doctor for “years.”

The Best and Worst Ranked Docs

When it came to the highest-rated doctors, surprisingly, not one primary care specialist cracked the top five. Instead, specialists and surgeons represented the top of the list.


#1 Neuromusculoskeletal Specialists
#2 Thoracic Surgeons
#3 Podiatrists
#4 Plastic Surgeons
#5 Colon & Rectal Surgeons

On the bottom of the list, were psychiatrists, often vilified for their cool, disconnected demeanor, along with specialists that people see on their worse days, like emergency doctors and pain management specialists.


#1 Psychiatrists
#2 Preventative Medicine Specialists
#3 Pain Specialists
#4 Emergency Doctors
#5 Neurologists

About Vitals

Vitals empowers everyone to shop for their health care like an expert. We bring together cost and quality transparency along with innovative consumer engagement programs to help people select high-quality, lower-cost care. Vitals leads the market with incentive and engagement programs that pay people to shop. Our solutions achieve measurable and sustainable savings for consumers, employers and health plans. Vitals helps more than 120 million people each year access better, more affordable care.

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Rosie Mattio, 917-583-6349


Rosie Mattio, 917-583-6349