Bullet Points:

  • Online physician ratings are important
  • Improving online ratings is hard
  • Asking patients to leave reviews can be awkward
  • Ignoring the problem is bad for reviews and bad for business
  • We tested out two methods for increasing reviews:
    • A) Handing out “Leave me a Review” cards (active)
    • B) Automated emails requesting reviews (passive)
  • Active requests were 8x more effective than nothing and 6x more effective than passive emails
  • Surgeons can increase their online reviews without much effort or cost by engaging patients

Background & Objective:

Many websites provide an opportunity for patients to leave online physician reviews and ratings (HealthGrades, Vitals, Yelp, Google, etc.) for both individual surgeons and group practices. While these sites are intended to be unbiased, some literature suggests that online ratings can be influenced by encouraging patients to leave reviews.  Increasing numbers of patients are turning to online physician ratings websites prior to selecting their providers.  Thus, it is in the surgeon’s and practice’s best interest to increase the volume and quality of online ratings.  The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy and superiority of either active (personally handed out review cards) or passive (email) review requests against a control scenario of doing “nothing.”


Materials & Methods:

This prospective, cohort study was performed in a private p

ractice office that did not initially request online reviews from patients (CONTROL).

We then initiated either ACTIVE (verbal request between surgeon and patient with review cards) or PASSIVE (automated email, SurigSurvey LLC) online review requests.

Prior to and during implementation of the new protocol, online reviews for the 4 most popular rating websites for individual surgeons and the group practice were recorded monthly.

Outcomes included the volume of online reviews, overall score, and rate of review accumulation. Rate of acquisition is reported as the number of reviews accumulated divided by the number of new patients seen (%).


Control: (no review requests):  16 reviews among 1,191 new pts = 1.3% acquisition rate

Passive: (email requests):  23 new reviews among 1,253 new pts = 1.8% acquisition rate

Active: (hand out cards + request): 123 new reviews among 1,128 new pts = 10.9% acquisition rate

Group Practice: Accumulation rate of 0.3% during the control and 1.7% after the intervention


Surgeons and practices can increase their online ratings by requesting online reviews actively (verbally + cards) or passively (emails). Both protocols increase the volume of online reviews, but active requests are 6 times more effective at acquiring reviews.  Future studies are in process to identify effective ways to improve automation request volume and improve rating scores.