Doctor Ratings – Reviews of ZocDoc, Google, Vitals, Healthgrades, RateMDs & Directories

Article, courtesy of eMM Advisory Services. When in doubt, pick up the phone and 
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How important are doctor ratings?

In the old days, word of mouth was everything. Doctors were the most respected members of any community. There were no questions about “insurance,” network, billing, access, or anything related to modern business of medical practice. There was no internet, there were no mobile phones. But there was only word of mouth.

Now, the word of mouth are on directories, ZocDoc reviews, Google Local, Vitals, Yelp, Healthgrades, and RateMDs. Patients make choices where to go to a doctor based on insurance, network, and how much they need to pay for co-pays and deductibles, which already limits the overall market opportunity to less than 1/3. Just one-third. .

With that said, do you really want doctor ratings and zocdoc reviews to affect your market share? With only 1/3 of the market opportunity do you really want to have a questionable reputation?

Did you know that nearly 80% of all doctor ratings are not about the doctor’s abilities and skills but rather related to “customer experience”? Oh yes, patient waiting time, appointment setting, lack of parking spots, returning phone calls, and responding to emails are almost always represented on the physician review sites. Do you know what the #1 complaints are about? Medical Billing. Is it fair? Not at all.

For most doctors, their physician ratings are directly related to the brand of the practice. In solo practices, a bad reputation can lead to diminishing business. In group medical practices, a bad apple could be disastrous. In hospitals and health systems, a medical director’s reputation should not be representative of a department’s ability to attract patients, but it is.

Reviews of ZocDoc, Google, Vitals, Healthgrades, RateMDs

Let’s review some of the most prominent doctor rating sites, including ZocDoc

Google Reviews – Physician reviews on Google are the Gold standard for marketing a practice. These listings are geo-targeted and appear on mobile phones everywhere. They are the most prominently displayed with Google rich snippets and schema markings. Gathering reviews for doctors on Google should be the top priority for any healthcare organization. Who doesn’t have a Gmail account? This makes it easy for any patient to easily log in on their phones are write a few nice words about their experience.

ZocDoc Reviews – Doctors’ ratings on ZocDoc should be approached with caution. Every doctor gets top ratings, regardless of actual results. ZocDoc is in the business of keeping doctors for the whole year on their directory so the ZocDoc reviews need to be 5 stars, otherwise doctors would leave. How many of the ratings are true or actually verified? What about all those ratings below 3 stars? Why are they never displayed? We wonder if at any point ZocDoc will be publishing the negative ratings stored in its database for the doctors that don’t renew their subscriptions. At $3,000 per year, this is an expensive venture. The way the doctors’ listings are manipulated for appearing at the top of the directory and rotated the following month to results #5 #6 or gosh-forbid #10 or 2nd page… it’s completely not fair. It’s literally as if doctors are spending money for other doctors to take their patients.

Vitals Reviews, RateMDs, and Healthgrades Ratings – All three have fair ratings systems, but they make it very difficult for a patient without an account on those sites to leave a review. There is an interesting business process in the background where paying healthcare organizations have an easier way of getting patients to write reviews, but again, it is a very expensive venture. These three physician ratings sites are here to stay so we will definitely see improvement in these three medical directories. All three are worth investing into, once you have Google Reviews already set up. Google is Free.

Claiming Listings and Reviews of ZocDoc, Vitals, Healthgrades, RateMDs

This is where it’s all about politics, or lack of. 

Google is the only listing service for physicians where they help a doctor’s reputation, branding, and marketing. In order to claim a business and for it to display in the first place, the location must be claimed and verified. Only then does it really become active.

All the other doctor review sites like ZocDoc, Vitals, Healthgrades, and RateMDs publish mini-websites for a Doctor’s name and Practice that directly compete on the search engines on Google, Yahoo, and Bing. This is a “shady” business practice and to this day there have not been any advertising laws passed for putting an end to this practice. ZocDoc actually SPENDS advertising money on doctors’ names. Oh yes. This is a very shady practice. So if a medical practice is spending money on advertising their practice and if they get an additional subscription on ZocDoc, they’re in fact paying ZocDoc to directly compete with their own efforts. The worst part about it is that doctors don’t know this is even happening.

Furthermore, once you claim a listing on ZocDoc you’re putting a direct competitor on the market for your practice. Not only that, you’re literally giving permission for another company to use your name and brand of the practice to directly compete with you. This would not be an issue if the ZocDoc Listings and ZocDoc reviews were linked to the physician’s own websites, but instead you’re duped into linking your website to ZocDoc. So chances are more than good that ZocDoc will be taking your potential patients away from you. How? By linking your sites and directories to ZocDoc, you’re telling Google, Yahoo, and Bing that your website is less important than ZocDoc.

The three others are not as invasive, but publishing business listings without claiming them should be stopped. Why? How would ZocDoc, Vitals, Healthgrades, or RateMDs feel if someone published a website named for their brand names? Go ahead, publish a website named ZocDoc. It would result in an immediate cease-and-desist letter, followed by a lawsuit. Why can’t medical practices do the same? In fact some do. A simple letter puts a stop to it. You don’t even need a lawyer to represent you in court. It’s a very simple case of not using your brand name and trademark.

Ratings on ZocDoc, Vitals, Healthgrades, RateMDs compared to Yelp

Another case of lack of advertising laws to protect doctors’ reputations.

While ratings on ZocDoc, Vitals, Healthgrades, and RateMDs seem to related to overall patient experience .. Yelp goes a long way past that. Yelp rewards complainers with higher visibility. Gosh-forbid you get a frequent Yelp complainer in your practice. That doctor’s parking spot in front of a building is going to be a 1-star rating. Things completely out of control of a medical practice’s customer service team or not related to patient experience seem to make it more into the reviews.

This is completely not fair. What could be worse than that?

How about publishing an advertisement on top of another doctors’ bad rating? That’s Yelp’s business structure – encouraging bad reviews. Why?

Because if you advertise on Yelp, you get a clean slate. We call this black-hat marketing tactics.


Overall Review of ZocDoc, Vitals, Healthgrades, RateMDs, and Yelp

Be careful. What you don’t know will hurt you. Don’t trust pushy sales reps to be the authority figures on doctor review.


If you’re ever in doubt about Doctor Ratings Sites and you need to speak to a peer Get in Touch with e – Medical Marketing Advisory Services or pick up the phone and 
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