The online rating phenomenon helps when we choose restaurants or hotels. However, choosing a physician based on ratings could be a huge mistake, according to a new study. A research group at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center concluded that online consumer ratings should not be used to choose physicians because the ratings do not correlate with performance ratings by their peers.

Dr. Timothy J. Daskivich, a urologic oncologist and surgeon at Cedars-Sinai, is also the center’s director of Health Services Research. Daskivich is the lead author of the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association in September 2017. The researchers compared 78 physician’s consumer ratings with five elements of specialty-specific performance scores. The professional rating elements included: 30-day readmissions, length of stay, adjusted cost of care, primary care physician peer-review scores, and administrator peer-review scores. The results of the comparison, which was notably consistent across all five elements, “showed no significant association between mean consumer ratings and specialty-specific performance scores.”

The upshot of the Cedars-Sinai does not entirely rule out referring to online doctor ratings and published testimonials when seeking a physician. Consumer ratings should not be used alone, however, but in conjunction with other assessment means. If consumer ratings are the sole selection component, it sounds like the chances of getting a highly-ranked physician based on actual performance is based largely on luck.