The Impact of Social Media on Negative Online Physician Reviews: an Observational Study in a Large, Academic, Multispecialty Practice

R. Jay Widmer, Margaret Shepard, Lee A. Aase, John T. Wald, Sandhya Pruthi, Farris K. Timimi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Background: Online reviews of physicians are becoming increasingly common, however no correlation of these reviews to formal patient satisfaction surveys. With the explosion of social media, it is unknown as to how this form of communication may have a role in potentially managing and addressing the search position of negative online reviews. Methods: We obtained a list of 102 physicians with negative online reviews between September 2014 and December 2014. Social media uptake and average Google search position of the physician and their respective negative online reviews were assessed from January 2015 through January 2017. Results: Fifty-four (53%) physicians had any social media presence in January 2015. All 102 physicians were subsequently offered social media coaching by the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media which resulted in an increase to 90% of these physicians participating in social media by January 2017. The average Google search position for the negative online reviews was significantly reduced from 5.2 ± 2.5 to 14.3 ± 11.3 (P < 0.001) from 2015 to 2017. There was a moderate increase in Doximity uptake during that time increasing from 11% of the physicians having a claimed profile to 80%. There were non-significant reductions in the average Google search position − 9.7 ± 11.3 in the physicians who had an existing a social media presence versus those who were not on social media − 4.2 ± 2.2 (P = 0.11). Conclusions: Physician social media presence can reduce the bearing of negative online comments by decreasing the search position of these comments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-101
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • internet
  • online
  • physician reviews
  • social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

Cite this