If you Google your doctor’s name, several sites pop up that purport to give information about your “provider.”

In addition to office address and hours, some of the sites offer the doc’s credentials, and some go so far as to offer ratings from other ‘consumers.’WELLPOINT ZAGAT HEALTH SURVEY TOOL

A group of academic doctors from the University of Michigan decided to study the impact of doctor ratings on patients’ choices of physician.

The grand conclusions?

Acceptance of your insurance plan and office location were the most important factors (in choosing a doctor) for respondents to an online survey designed by the researchers. As to web ratings? Only 19% of respondents (n=2137) answered that ratings were ‘very important.’ But 40% said online ratings were ‘somewhat important.’

NPR’s Shots Blog said it best: “Online doctor ratings [are] about as useful as those for restaurants.” My own view is that they are even less useful than that—the number of online doctor raters seems so small—and there are so many of these sites they dilute any useful responses.

Just for kicks–Google your doctor and see what kind of ratings are out there. If you find anything interesting, share it in the comments.