Electronic Journal of Health Informatics. 2008, 3 (1)
People who are seeking medical advice and care often find it difficult to obtain reliable information about the quality and competence of health service providers. While transparent quality evaluation of products and services is commonplace in most commercial services, public access to information about the quality of health services is usually very restricted. Online reputation and rating systems represent an emerging trend in decision support for service consumers. Reputation systems are based on collecting information about other parties in order to derive measures of their trustworthiness or reliability on various aspects. More specifically these systems use the Internet for the collection of ratings and for dissemination of derived reputation scores. Online rating systems applied to the health sector are already emerging. This article describes robust principles for implementing online reputation systems in the health sector. In order to prevent uncontrolled ratings, our method ensures that only genuine consumers of a specific service can rate that service. The advantage of using online reputation systems in the health sector is that it can assist consumers when deciding which health services to use, and that it gives an incentive for high quality health services among health service providers.