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Can We Trust Online Physician Ratings? Evidence from Cardiac Surgeons in Florida

41 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2014 Last revised: 23 Aug 2014

Susan F. Lu

Purdue University - Krannert School of Management

Huaxia Rui

University of Rochester - Simon Business School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 10, 2014

Abstract

Despite heated debate about the pros and cons of online physician ratings, very little systematic work examines the correlation between physicians’ online ratings and their actual medical performance. Using patients’ ratings of physicians at RateMDs.com and the Florida Hospital Discharge data, we investigate whether online ratings reflect physicians’ medical performance by means of a two-stage model that takes into account patients’ ratings-based selection of cardiac surgeons. Estimation results show that five-star surgeons are associated with significantly lower mortality rates and are more likely to be selected by sicker patients compared with lower-rated surgeons. In contrast, not accounting for patients’ rating-based selection leads to the opposite outcome: patients treated by five-star surgeons had higher mortality rates than patients treated by surgeons rated below five stars. Further, we find that patients are not naïve: they know how to use different dimensions of online rating information when choosing a surgeon. Our findings suggest that we can trust online physician ratings, at least of cardiac surgeons.

Keywords: word of mouth, physician ratings, patient selection, quality disclosure

JEL Classification: L15, I1

Suggested Citation

Lu, Susan F. and Rui, Huaxia, Can We Trust Online Physician Ratings? Evidence from Cardiac Surgeons in Florida (May 10, 2014). Simon Business School Working Paper No. FR 14-05. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2407772 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2407772

Susan Feng Lu

Purdue University - Krannert School of Management ( email )

1310 Krannert Building
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1310
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/susanluhome/home

Huaxia Rui (Contact Author)

University of Rochester - Simon Business School ( email )

Rochester, NY 14627
United States

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