Weatherby Healthcare, one of the nation’s largest providers of locum tenens staffing, today released the findings of a study of nearly 500 everyday healthcare consumers, revealing what patients look for when choosing a physician, what would cause them to leave their current physician and how educated they about their doctors and their own medical histories.
The data showed that finding an in-network, affordable doctor is the top priority for patients when selecting their physicians and healthcare facilities. When choosing a new doctor, patients consider whether a provider is in-network — 51 percent labeled in-network care as critical — while also weighing potential out-of-pocket costs. Apart from financial drivers, 70 percent of respondents said a convenient location was either critical or very important.
“More than 20 million people have gained access to healthcare in the past seven years as a result of government legislation. It’s important that we know what patients are looking for in their healthcare providers so physicians and healthcare organizations can better attend to the needs of these individuals,” said Bill Heller, president of Weatherby Healthcare. “This study shows us that patients really care about simple, hassle-free access to healthcare and doctors who are available and kind.”
Other key findings from the study include:
- Patient satisfaction grows with age. The study found that 75 percent of patients are satisfied with their primary care physicians, and that satisfaction increases with age. In particular, 82 percent of patients over the age of 55 are satisfied with their physicians. Among patients 18 to 34, that rate drops to only two-thirds (67 percent).
- Competence beats empathy. Patients rate a physician’s knowledge and abilities above all other factors (84 percent said competence was “extremely” or “very” influential), followed by accompanying staff competence. Feeling confident in the competence of their care is more important to patients than a doctor’s empathy.
- Patients research online. When conducting online research about individual physicians, patients most often visit WebMD (55 percent) followed by Google reviews (40 percent). Sites dedicated solely to physician reviews, such as Zocdoc.com are not as popular (3 percent).
- Family history is a mystery. Though patients may spend time online researching their physicians, they do not extend as much effort into learning their family medical histories. Most patients know their current medications and allergies, but fewer than half of patients (43 percent) report familiarity with their family medical histories.
- Patients don’t seek second opinions. Almost three-quarters (71 percent) of patients have never sought a second opinion upon receiving a diagnosis from their physician. This finding may indicate that, ultimately, patients trust their doctors.
The Weatherby Healthcare study shows that while patients care about cost, convenience and location when selecting a physician and healthcare facility, they also appreciate a doctor with experience and a positive attitude. Though patients sometimes change physicians, many are satisfied with their doctors and look to them for the final, official opinion on their healthcare decisions. The modern patient is also using the internet to research his or her doctors and learn about his or her own medical situations.
Hanover Research designed and administered a survey on behalf of Weatherby Healthcare to investigate the profile of the modern medical patient. In total, this survey collected 488 valid responses after data cleaning. Respondents were over 18 years old, U.S. residents, visited a physician for a standard check-up in the past two years and visited a medical facility other than a free clinic.
About Weatherby Healthcare
Established in 1995, Weatherby Healthcare specializes in providing quality locum tenens physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners to the nation’s top hospitals and healthcare facilities. In addition to its expert knowledge in locum tenens, the healthcare staffing leader is known for its award-winning company culture. Weatherby Healthcare is a part of the CHG Healthcare family of companies, which ranks No. 20 on Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list.