How social media, training, and demographics influence online reviews across three leading review websites for spine surgeons

Chester J. Donnally, Deborah J. Li, James A. Maguire, Eric S. Roth, Grant P. Barker, Johnathon R. McCormick, Augustus J. Rush, Nathan H Lebwohl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background Context: The future of health care is consumer driven with a focus on outcome metrics and patient feedback. Physician review websites have grown in popularity and are guiding patients to certain health-care providers, for better or worse. No prior study has specifically evaluated Internet reviews of spine surgeons, determined if social media (SM) correlates with patient reviews, or evaluated Google as a physician review website. Purpose: This study aimed to evaluate patient satisfaction scores for spine surgeons in Florida using leading physician ratings websites. Study Design: A retrospective study was carried out. Sample Population: The sample comprised spine surgeons with a review on (HG), (V), or (G) online rating websites as of August 17, 2017. Outcome Measures: Number of ratings, number of comments, overall rating, patient-reported wait times, physician website presence, and physician SM presence were the outcome measures. Methods: Using the directory of registered North American Spine Society physicians, we identified all spine surgeons practicing in Florida (137 orthopedic trained; 78 neurosurgery trained). Surgeon demographics and ratings data were collected from three physician rating websites (HG, V, G) from July 19, 2017 to August 17, 2017. Using only the first 10 search results from we then identified if the surgeon had accounts on Facebook (FB), Twitter (TW), or Instagram (IG). Results: Nearly every surgeon in this cohort had either an institutional or personal website (98.1%), and 38.6% had at least one SM outlet of our three reviewed. Both personal and institutional website presence significantly correlated with higher G scores. Spine surgeons with a searchable account on FB, TW, or IG made up 35.4%, 10.2%, and 0.5% of the cohort, respectively. Surgeons with an SM presence had a significantly higher number of ratings and comments on HG, V, and G, but not overall scores. In multivariable analysis, only V showed a significant inverse correlation between overall score and age, private institution, and orthopedic surgery training. Wait times >30 minutes were significantly associated with worse overall scores across all three review sites. Overall ratings between HG, V, and G all had significantly positive correlations on Pearson correlation analysis. Conclusion: Social media presence correlates with patient communication in the form of number of ratings and comments, yet does not impact overall scores, suggesting social media may influence patient feedback. Longer wait times are indicative of lower scores across all three platforms. Overall ratings from all three websites correlate significantly with each other, indicating agreement between physician ratings across different platforms. Understanding the factors that optimize a patient's overall experience with a physician is an important and emerging outcome measure for the future of patient-centered health care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2081-2090
Number of pages10
JournalSpine Journal
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Online patient ratings
  • Patient outcomes
  • Physician review websites
  • Social media
  • Spine surgeon ratings
  • Wait times

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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