The Flaws of Star-Ratings on Dentist Review Sites

Most every dentist review site uses some sort of star-rating system to rate dentists.  It's usually based on 5-stars being the best, down to 1-star being the worst.  This is intended to quantify the doctor's rating and give a quick snapshot of the doctor's overall performance.  However, there a few problems with this method...

Gaming the System
One issue with this approach is that the system can be manipulated.  We noted in a previous post what happened to one dentist when she quit advertising with the review site - her star-rating dropped from 4.5 to 1 the very next month.  On the other end of the spectrum, there are dental review sites that allow dentist's to remove 1-star reviews.  In turn, they find average approval rating of dentists nationwide is over 97%.  While there are a lot of excellent dentists out there, this just reeks of dishonesty.


No Standards
The lack of any benchmark is also an issue.  Quite simply, one patient's 4-star may be another patient's 2-star.  It may work when a single critic gives stars to a movie or a restaurant, since there's a standard the critic has already established from their previous reviews.  This standard can't be obtained when you have a multitude of patients with varying opinions on what deserves 5-stars.

User Error
How many times have you seen a 2-star review that claims "This is the best doctor ever…"  But, because the patient mis-clicked the star when submitting the review, the only thing that will come up in search results for the dentist is that they're only a 2-star doctor.


Grading a Career
Can a patient really summarize a dentist's 20 year career with a few stars after a single visit?  Plus, stars are often awarded based on not just the doctor's professional work, but also other factors such as the congeniality of the front office staff.  Or, worse, the ease of billing through the insurance company - something that almost always negatively (although, unjustly) affects a dentist's star-rating.


Grading on the Curve
There's also the fact that the more skilled dentists are going to get the more challenging cases.  So, statistically, they're also going to have the most cases that aren't 100% perfect.  A prime example of this situation is a faculty member at a teaching hospital.  Even though the doctor recognized as a leader in their field may only be able to provide an 80% correction on a very challenging case doesn't mean they're only a 4-star dentist.

No Middle Ground
Finally, there's the fact that most patients who are inspired to leave a review do so out of either love or hate.  Google's own employees at YouTube came right out and admitted on their company blog that the star-system they use to rate videos is essentially useless since all they get are 5-star or 1-star ratings.

Don't leave your patients to make decisions about you and the care you provide based on a review site with a flawed rating system.  Own your name online and give your patients authentic, credible information about you & your practice.  This will give them the tools to make an educated decision - and an appointment.

About the Author

Mike is a marketing guru and online reputation specialist. He as worked witha variety of companies improving their marketing strategies, specifically working with...

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