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Public Reporting in Germany: the Content of Physician Rating Websites

Journal: Methods of Information in Medicine
Subtitle: A journal stressing, for more than 50 years, the methodology and scientific fundamentals of organizing, representing and analyzing data, information and knowledge in biomedicine and health care
ISSN: 0026-1270

Focus Theme: Recent Developments in Boosting Methodology
Guest Editors: M. Schmid, T. Hothorn

Issue: 2012 (Vol. 51): Issue 2 2012
Pages: 112-120

Public Reporting in Germany: the Content of Physician Rating Websites

Original Article

Online Supplementary Material

M. Emmert (1), U. Sander (2), A. S. Esslinger (3), M. Maryschok (1), O. Schöffski (1)

(1) Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Health Management, Nuremberg, Germany:; (2) University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Hannover, Germany; (3) University of Applied Sciences Aalen, Germany and Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Strategic Management, Nuremberg, Germany


Internet, Germany, patient satisfaction, information dissemination, physician rating website


Background: Physician rating websites (PRWs) are gaining in popularity among patients seeking quality information about physicians. However, little knowledge is available about the quantity and type of information provided on the websites.

Objective: To determine and structure the quantity and type of information about physicians in the outpatient sector provided on German-language physician rating websites.

Methods: In a first step, we identified PRWs through a systematic internet search using German keywords from a patient´s perspective in the two search engines Google and Yahoo. Afterwards, information about physicians available on the websites was collected and categorised according to Donabedian´s structure/process/outcome model. Furthermore, we investigated whether the information was related to the physician himself/ herself or to the practice as a whole.

Results: In total, eight PRWs were detected. Our analysis turned up 139 different information items on eight websites; 67 are related to the structural quality, 4 to process quality, 5 to outcomes, and 63 to patient satisfaction/experience. In total, 37% of all items focus specifically on the physician and 63% on the physician’s practice. In terms of the total amount of information provided on the PRWs, results range from 61 down to 13.5 items.

Conclusions: A broad range of information is available on German PRWs. While structural information can give a detailed overview of the financial, technical and human resources of a practice, other outcome measures have to be interpreted with caution. Specifically, patient satisfaction results are not risk-adjusted, and thus, are not appropriate to represent a provider’s quality of care. Consequently, neither patients nor physicians should yet use the information provided to make their final decision for or against an individual physician.

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