Choosing a doctor, particularly a primary care physician (PCP), is a decision that you should put some thought into. You want to make sure you choose someone you are comfortable with (if you prefer a male or female doctor, what languages they speak, what areas they specialize in), someone who has offices conveniently located and someone who is easy to get an appointment with when you need one. Considering these factors will help you find a doctor you feel comfortable with. Doctor review websites can be a helpful tool in determining whether or not a doctor is someone you want to work with. Remember, your health is largely in his or her hands.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
While the sites we will cover in this article can be very useful, they are not the only way, or even the best way, to evaluate a physician. Most people only write reviews when they are either very satisfied or very dissatisfied. You probably won’t be hearing from the many, many patients who weren’t over or underwhelmed by the doctor’s performance.
Often, the best place to look for a doctor is to ask any friends or family you have in the area for recommendations. You are more likely to trust the judgment of those close to you than strangers on the Internet. Regardless of how you go about finding and narrowing down your options, you should meet with the doctor in person before making a choice. If you don’t feel comfortable, it doesn’t matter what the reviews say or how much your friends or family like him or her.
Healthgrades.com uses a 5-star rating system. Users can submit reviews and rate providers in a variety of factors, including:
- ease of scheduling urgent appointments
- office environment, cleanliness, and comfort
- wait time
- level of trust in providers’ decisions
- providers’ explanations and answers to questions
Users can choose to search for a doctor, dentist, or hospital in their city and state or zip code. The search function works by inputting any of the following:
- doctor name
You can also browse by these criteria.
Results pages can be sorted by best match, patient satisfaction, last name, or distance from the city or zip code.
Each listing provides the following information:
- doctor’s name
- patient satisfaction rating
You can also view years in practice, hospital affiliations, office locations, insurance carriers accepted, procedures performed, and conditions treated.
Vitals uses a 4-star rating system. Users can submit reviews and rate physicians based on a number of criteria including wait time, accuracy of diagnosis, bedside manner, and follow up after visit.
Like Healthgrades, you can search by zip code, but Vitals is unique in that it also lets you search by insurance provider and plan. This is very handy when (as in most cases) you’re looking for an in-network provider. You can search by any of the following:
- doctor name
One issue that we found was that regardless of what you put into the input field, the site only returns results if the name includes the words you searched for. For example, if you’re looking for someone who specialized in “allergies” and “Allergy” or “Allergies” is not in the practices name, it won’t show up in the results. In most cases this shouldn’t be an issue, but you may want to stick to zip code searches for greater accuracy.
Vitals allows you to refine your results by gender, which some prospective patients may find particularly useful. You can also use these search filters:
- average patient rating
- last name
- average wait time
- years of experience
- board certification
- affiliated hospital rating
- quality of school attended
Most of this information can be found on the individual pages, along with the office address, a photo of the physician, and his or her rating and specialty.
ZocDoc uses a 5-star rating system. Users can submit reviews once they have added a doctor or specialist to their history. Once an appointment is complete, the user will receive an email asking for feedback. You cannot submit a review of a doctor without attaching them to your profile.
Searching on ZocDoc is simple and easy. Under “Get Started,” choose from a drop-down of specialties. Add in your zip code and your health insurance provider. The biggest downside to ZocDoc is that you can’t search by office or by doctor’s name, so if you are interested in seeing how a specific practice rated, ZocDoc isn’t for you.
Results pages allow you to further filter by reason for visit, language, doctor gender, or by checking to only include doctors that see children. Once you have your list, you can view details including:
- doctor name
- doctor photo
- distance from your zip code
- board certifications
- appointment times available in the next 3 days.
ZocDoc is the only ratings site that also allows you to schedule appointments. Availability is listed directly on the page and is interactive, allowing you to book an appointment directly through the site.
While there are a number of doctor review websites, we chose to review the three that we found to have the best and most up-to-date look and user experience. Of course, you can also look at sites like Yelp, Google, and Angie’s List to compare reviews and feedback, though the reviews will likely be more about the office than the doctors themselves.