How to Write an Online Review of Your Healthcare Provider

Healthcare provider review websites have become a popular resource for people who are deciding whether a practitioner may be the right fit. Like hotel and restaurant review sites, these consumer portals allow anyone to share an opinion, rate a healthcare provider, and view comments from others.

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You can learn useful information by searching these sites, and you can also use them to share your insights with others. But there are some important things to keep in mind when you are evaluating the information you see and deciding whether and how you should post.

How to Use a Review Site

When using a review website, you often need to read between the lines to ascertain the intent of the person posting a comment and to look at reviews objectively, with your own priorities in mind.

Exaggerated Reviews

A completely negative, one-star rating or an overwhelmingly positive, five-star rating may be biased for a number of reasons.

Exaggerated negative ratings are sometimes driven not by poor medical care, but by patients who are angry that they did not receive prescriptions for narcotics or other substances of abuse.

Patients posting a negative online review is such a common tactic that hospitals, referring healthcare providers, and licensing boards are completely aware that anonymous and extremely negative online reviews are typically posted by drug seekers.

Similarly, a glowing or unrealistic review claiming that a healthcare provider is the only one who has ever been able to help may also be exaggerated, posted by the healthcare provider's friend or family, and may not offer true insight that could be valuable for your situation.

Balanced Reviews

The healthcare provider you are considering may have some pros and cons listed. For example, a highly sought after healthcare provider may be rated as competent, but blunt. If you have a very complicated medical situation, you may think that it is worth it to forgo friendly chatter if you can get your medical problem assessed by a leader in the field.

On the other hand, a healthcare provider who has long waiting room times but responds efficiently to phone calls may be a good fit for you if you can tolerate waiting for your appointments, but expect good communication between appointments.

Choosing to Post or Not to Post

While it may be easy for you to shoot off a quick review of a new restaurant or hotel, you should give a second thought to whether it's a good idea to do the same for a healthcare provider.

Remember that once your review is posted, others are going to use your comment to determine whether the healthcare provider is qualified to treat them. Guiding peoples' healthcare decisions is a much bigger responsibility than helping someone to decide whether a restaurant is a hit or miss. As such, your comments should reflect that responsibility both in its tone and intent.

Before you review a healthcare provider, identify your intentions. Are you posting a comment because:

  • You want to help others by providing genuine insights?
  • You are furious and feel the need to vent?
  • You are seeking revenge for a high bill or a canceled appointment?
  • You are a serial poster who simply likes posting across all social platforms?

If your reason is anything but the first, you may want to think twice about posting.

When you want to get results, there are far better outlets to share your complaints, such as speaking to the hospital where your healthcare provider works, calling the state licensing board, or simply speaking with your healthcare provider first.

Even if you are angry, venting your anger online is rarely productive. An online forum should never be the first place you go to complain because it is not designed as a means to get effective results.

If You Decide to Post a Review

If you decide to post an online review, be sure to put some thought into it. A savvy reader will typically weigh the comments in their totality and turn to the most balanced ones to gain actual insight.

Ultimately, the aim of a posting should be to offer a fair review that can help other users make a decision. It is often most helpful to list both the pros and cons of your experience briefly. Doing so cuts to the chase, allowing the reader to cull insights without having to plow their way through paragraph after paragraph of text.

  • If listing pros and cons, bulleted lists can help readers get through the points faster.
  • Avoid generalities. If there is an incident or issue you want to share, be specific but concise. Avoid rambling or engaging in "he-said-she-said" accounts.
  • Offer readers insights about more than one aspect of the practice if possible, not just one. Even if a receptionist was incredibly rude, it doesn't help anyone if that is all you write about.
  • Do not let your personal feelings demean a healthcare provider's competency. Suggesting that people should avoid a healthcare provider because you didn't like him or her really helps no one. For example, a healthcare provider who is of a different ethnic background, religion, sexual orientation, or political leaning is not someone who "should never practice medicine".
  • Avoid using negative labels like "the worst," "horrid," and "the rudest" and find other ways to express your feelings. Even if you have a valid complaint that you need to air, readers will skip over it if seems you are only there to trash the healthcare provider.
  • Avoid using all caps or multiple exclamation points. People have learned to ignore such comments even if there is valuable information to share.


Finally, remember that there is a fine line between negativity and defamation. In the same way that a hotel can lose customers if someone claims there are bed bugs, healthcare providers can lose patients if there is any suggestion of impropriety of any sort. If a comment is posted that has that effect, some healthcare providers may sue.

While this shouldn't discourage you from posting, it does suggest that you do so responsibly, fairly, and with the full knowledge that, once you hit the "POST" button, your words are out there permanently.

A Word From Verywell

Online reviews are becoming more valuable in recent years. Reviewing health services and healthcare providers, while easy to do, carries greater responsibility than more people realize. Keep in mind that your online review affects peoples' health.

If you can share your experience to the benefit of others, you may be doing a great service. If you tend to ruminate, become furious easily, and frequently feel vindictive, consider seeking psychological help rather than partaking in harmful online or other revenge-motivated activities that could land you in legal trouble.

1 Source
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Samora JB, Lifchez SD, Blazar PE. Physician-rating web sites: ethical implications. J Hand Surg Am. 2016 Jan;41(1):104-10.e1. doi:10.1016/j.jhsa.2015.05.034.

By Trisha Torrey
 Trisha Torrey is a patient empowerment and advocacy consultant. She has written several books about patient advocacy and how to best navigate the healthcare system.