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Marc Weaver, Deseret News
University of Utah Health Care is posting reviews of doctors online based on survey feedback from patients.
When I'm searching for a physician, it's important to me to see what regular patients think. —Shelley Furner

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah hospital system has launched a new online tool to make it easier for patients to select a doctor who best fits their needs.

University of Utah Health Care says it's the first in the country to post online physician reviews and comments. When a patient is treated at University Hospital, they are asked to rate their doctor in nine categories. They're also given the chance to comment on their experience.

The information is then posted online for other potential patients to review. The health care firm will only post ratings after it receives at least 30 patient surveys on a specific doctor.

"I did a lot of research on where we were going to deliver and who we would use for our OB/GYN," said patient Nina Walker, who recently gave birth to her first child.

Choosing a doctor, she said, was a difficult process.

"I had to go online," Walker said. "I looked at different chat websites. It's hard because you don't know who these people are or if they are even patients or if it's the doctors' staff posting things. You just don't know."

University of Utah Health Care hopes to eliminate similar dilemmas by posting data from patient surveys on its website.

"If we've had 400 surveys of a different doctor, that information is going to be better than … where they have had three or four reviews of a single doctor," said Chris Nelson, vice president of public affairs for University of Utah Health Care.

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Officials said they want to give the public an accurate view of their doctors.

"We know that patients expect transparency," Nelson said. "So if you say something bad about our doctors — as long as it's not libelous or slanderous — it stays on there."

Patients have said the new tool is convenient and gives them peace of mind.

"When I'm searching for a physician, it's important to me to see what regular patients think," said Shelley Furner.

"I get to be the one to choose the doctor and to be confident in that," Walker said. "Not just pick one and hope it all goes well."