A recent report in the American Medical News states that patients rarely use an online rating system to pick physicians. A Harris Interactive poll found that although more than 80% of the state's adults turn to the Internet for health-related information, less than one-quarter have looked at physician ratings sites. Only 2% of those surveyed made a change in physicians based on information posted on a rating site.
Good or bad, I believe that this will grow in popularity. Local word of mouth is an important thing for any business; doctors especially. Physicians should keep on their toes in order to make their sure they are giving a good service. The problem with the online rating option, however, is that the indicators may not be appropriate. In other words, all the P4P garbage is not proven to be accurate and could skew the way doctors do business in order to get a good rating. It is called gaming the system.
As far as patients putting down personal comments, that is a problem as well. Some people like to trash others for no other reason other than to hurt them. A physician friend of mine in Florida showed me some online comments about him. Most were great but a few of them were vicious. A narc seeker who doesn't get his Oxycontin can be be very vindictive. In fact, it doesn't even have to be patients you know. Take a look at the Reader's Digest comment section and see how people who don't know me have gone to town trying to trash my reputation.