I chose an OB based on Yelp and Google reviews. The positive reviews were so glowing that I overlooked the negative reviews that vaguely mentioned poor communication. I loved her - but when I had PROM at 33 weeks and she didn't return my call or the L&D nurse's call three hours later, I did NOT love her all that much! Suffice to say my review regarding her "poor communication" was much more detailed, and I now give more credence to reviews that show a pattern.
I have used YELP to find a specialist physician starting in the last 2 years and have found it to be surprisingly on point about local providers. I chose a specialist based on his extensive (positive) YELP reviews and more importantly, because he commented on many of the reviews, both positive and negative ones. After I met him, I asked him if he was doing this himself and he said yes. I'm happy to report that he as good as the reviews rave about him. So, based on that experience, I have used YELP more and more for all kinds of services and it does not disappoint.
I haven’t used any of these and haven’t even heard of many of them.
I generally contact colleagues and ask who they would recommend. Since I live in NY, I also check the NY State physician web site which lists info on educational history and malpractice history.
I don’t put any value in the other online rating schemes—it’s rare to see any with more than a few comments.
The insurance provider lists are also pretty worthless as they aren’t updated in a timely way — I know that in my specialty my insurer has people on the list who’ve moved, retired and occasionally even died. The insurers also don’t make any distinction on the list as to whether someone sees outpatients at all or is solely a hospitalist or whether they only see certain subgroups of patients (children, geriatrics). And most of the suitable people on the list aren’t accepting new patients anyway. I find it easier to get names of a few recommended physicians and then see if they take my insurance. (If I had an HMO plan or rigid PPO, I might approach this differently though.)