Data Science in the Health Care Industry: Unintended Consequences of Online Ratings Informing HealthCare Decisions
By Jennifer Lewis Priestley, Ph.D.
Jennifer is the Associate Dean of The Graduate College at Kennesaw State University. She is director of the Analytics and Data Science Institute and launched one of the first Ph.D. programs in Data Science in the country.
The Ubiquity of Online Ratings
In a 2016 study, the Pew Research Center found that 84% of all US adults use online ratings sites to inform their product or service purchase decisions. The same is true for health care – patients increasingly access online ratings sites to inform their healthcare decisions, with online ratings emerging as the most influential factor for choosing a physician. In a 2017 study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 53% of physicians and 39% of patients reported visiting a health care rating website at least once. In addition, a recent study of 600 randomly selected physicians in the United States revealed that 66% of physicians had at least one rating across the most popular ratings sites – Healthgrades.com, Vitals.com and RateMDs.com. But perhaps the most striking statistic comes from a survey of 1000 outpatients from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, where 75% of patients would choose a physician and 88% would avoid seeing a physician based on ratings data alone. Payers and health systems are also now including consumer ratings in their patient portals, which provides tacit endorsement for the ratings’ validity in comparing doctors.