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Study Assesses Association between Online Ratings, Clinical Quality of Care Measures for U.S Hospitals

Little is known about the usefulness of online ratings when searching for a hospital. In a study published in BMC Health Services Research, researchers assessed the association between quantitative and qualitative online ratings for US hospitals and clinical quality of care measures.  Researchers matched quantitative and qualitative online ratings for hospitals from the website RateMDs with hospital-level quality measures published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Study findings indicated some association between quantitative online ratings and clinical performance measures. However, the relatively weak strength and inconsistency of the direction of the association as well as the lack of association with several other clinical measures may not enable the drawing of strong conclusions. Narrative comments also seem to have limited potential to reflect the clinical quality of care in its current form. Thus, online ratings are of limited usefulness in guiding patients towards high-performing hospitals from a clinical point of view. Nevertheless, patients might prefer different aspects of care when choosing a hospital.

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