A recent article published in Kaiser Health News’ “Capsules” blog highlighted the trend of hospitals posting patient ratings of individual physicians on their websites.

For decades, many hospitals have surveyed patients about their physicians. America’s Essential Hospitals member University of Utah Health Care was the first hospital to post these surveys on their own website, the article reports. And although most of their physicians receive high ratings – a four or five on a five-point scale – the hospital is committed to posting less-than-glowing patient comments. Check out an example of their patient survey.

What are the benefits of this type of transparency?

Hospital staff note that when potential patients search for a University of Utah Health Care physician using an online search engine, the hospital’s review is the one that pops up first.

Brian Gresh, senior director for interactive marketing and web at University of Utah Health Care says, “We knew our patient satisfaction scores were really strong and we had a good story to share with our patients.”

Now, other hospitals, like Cleveland Clinic and Integris Health in Oklahoma, are considering following University of Utah Health Care’s lead.

Influencing Patient Choice

Many other sites, like medical information sites Healthgrades and Vitals and consumer-focused sites like Yelp and Consumer Reports, offer physician reviews. Some of the reviews are based on patient surveys, while some simply compile user comments. According to a research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association, about one quarter of patients surveyed in 2012 used such sites when choosing a physician.

Taking into account how often patients consult rating websites before scheduling an appointment, a hospital that posts its own reviews will not only increase the chance that patients see it as a trusted source, but also underscore its commitment to transparency and quality improvement, other positive qualities many patients are looking for in a care provider.