What patients value in physicians: Analyzing drivers of patient satisfaction using physician-rating website data

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


  • Sonja Bidmon
  • Ossama Elshiewy
  • Ralf Terlutter
  • Yasemin Boztug

Background: Customer-oriented health care management and patient satisfaction have become important for physicians to attract patients in an increasingly competitive environment. Satisfaction influences patients' choice of physician and leads to higher patient retention and higher willingness to engage in positive word of mouth. In addition, higher satisfaction has positive effects on patients' willingness to follow the advice given by the physician. In recent years, physician-rating websites (PRWs) have emerged in the health care sector and are increasingly used by patients. Patients' usage includes either posting an evaluation to provide feedback to others about their own experience with a physician or reading evaluations of other patients before choosing a physician. The emergence of PRWs offers new avenues to analyze patient satisfaction and its key drivers. PRW data enable both satisfaction analyses and implications on the level of the individual physician as well as satisfaction analyses and implications on an overall level. Objective: This study aimed to identify linear and nonlinear effects of patients' perceived quality of physician appointment service attributes on the overall evaluation measures that are published on PRWs. Methods: We analyzed large-scale survey data from a German PRW containing 84,680 surveys of patients rating a total of 7038 physicians on 24 service attributes and 4 overall evaluation measures. Elasticities are estimated from regression models with perceived attribute quality as explanatory variables and overall evaluation measures as dependent variables. Depending on the magnitude of the elasticity, service attributes are classified into 3 categories: attributes with diminishing, constant, or increasing returns to overall evaluation. Results: The proposed approach revealed new insights into what patients value when visiting physicians and what they take for granted. Improvements in the physicians' pleasantness and friendliness have increasing returns to the publicly available overall evaluation (b=1.26). The practices' cleanliness (b=1.05) and the communication behavior of a physician during a visit (b level between.97 and 1.03) have constant returns. Indiscretion in the waiting rooms, extended waiting times, and a lack of modernity of the medical equipment (b level between.46 and.59) have the strongest diminishing returns to overall evaluation. Conclusions: The categorization of the service attributes supports physicians in identifying potential for improvements and prioritizing resource allocation to improve the publicly available overall evaluation ratings on PRWs. Thus, the study contributes to patient-centered health care management and, furthermore, promotes the utility of PRWs through large-scale data analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13830
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number2
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 03.02.2020
Externally publishedYes