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How We Gather (and How to Interpret) Our Data

Our tables rating individual doctors will be more valuable to you if you know how the data were gathered and how they should be interpreted. See the text of our article for more discussion of these data

Opinion Surveys

We regularly survey area CHECKBOOK and Consumer Reports subscribers for their feedback on services they have used. We sometimes also survey subscribers to various other websites and publications and survey a sampling of other area consumers. On our surveys, we ask consumers to rate their experiences with service providers they had most recently used on several aspects of service. Our ratings tables show the percent of each doctor’s surveyed patients who provided a rating of “very good” or “excellent” (as opposed to “poor,” “fair,” or “good”) for questions on our survey.

We have included on our ratings tables all of the doctors for which we received at least 10 ratings on our customer surveys. If a doctor is not listed on our ratings tables, it simply means we did not receive at least 10 ratings for him or her.

Since many doctors were rated by rather small numbers of raters, small differences between two doctors in the percentage of raters who gave a particular rating should be ignored.

Doctors who received high ratings on our surveys are good candidates, but keep in mind that often the number of raters is small and that a larger number of respondents might have produced substantially higher or lower scores. Also keep in mind that the survey responses are inherently subjective; because doctor-patient relationships are very personal, a physician our respondents liked may not be one you like.

Timeliness of the Data

All of the data must be interpreted in view of timeliness. Our customer survey data are from surveys conducted from January 2008 to July 2015. Survey respondents were asked to report on experiences in the preceding year.

Top Ratings

We give checkmarks to service providers that score highest on a scoring system that we devise for each service field. Our scoring systems weight the various data in our tables and text based on our subjective judgment of their importance. Since the scores are based entirely on information presented, you can apply your own subjective judgments, and decide whether you prefer doctors we have not given checkmarks.


A rough guide for deciding whether the difference between two percentages is important If one firm had this number of ratings: And a second had this number of ratings: Do not give much importance to the difference between percentages unless the difference is at least this many percentage points:
Assuming the average of the two firms' percentages is 50 percent 10
30
60
120
10
30
60
120
45
26
18
13
Assuming the average of the two firms' percentages is 80 percent 10
30
60
120
10
30
60
120
36
21
15
10

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