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Survey: The Factors That Go Into Selecting a Doctor

Posted in Blog on January 27, 2017


When going through the process of selecting a doctor, patients consider a variety of factors like convenience, personality, and medical accolades. However, these factors differ considerably patient to patient. To better understand the key components that play into doctor selection, we conducted a survey exploring patients’ preferences. In the data below, you’ll see some of our most compelling findings.

One of the most straightforward results from this survey revealed the weight of a doctor’s history of prior medical malpractice on patient’s’ doctor selection. The largest standalone group was, unsurprisingly, very likely to factor a doctor’s malpractice suits into their decision.  Combined, those very likely, fairly likely, and likely to consider malpractice when selecting a doctor made up just over 58% of the group.

Another striking result from this survey was from the poll on bedside manner. The distribution shows us that a vast majority of patients consider bedside manner at least important, with only 16.8% valuing bedside manner as slightly important or not important at all.

Also important to patients, was the doctor’s experience. Over 70% of patients considered experience to be either important, fairly important, or very important in their decision making process.

We also looked at where patients are most likely to trust medical recommendations from. Friends & family and doctors dominate this result; however, an important takeaway a significant number of patients, especially in the 55-64 age bracket, look to online medical websites as a trusted medical source. While difficult to believe, many patients are more likely to accept medical advice from a friend or medical website rather than a medically trained professional.

Upon further breakdown, we see that women prefer a friend’s or family member’s recommendation, and men prefer a doctor’s recommendation, while both value an online medical website’s recommendation.

According to statistics from the poll on wait time, a medical practice’s perceived wait time does factor into a patient’s decision making process. Just over 72% of patients responded that the wait time was somewhere between likely and very likely to influence their decision.

Breakdown of these data between men and women show that men tend to be more resistant to wait time as a factor in their decision, while women tend to place more weight on wait time as a factor in their decision.   

When asked how often they researched a new doctor, patients responded either always, often, or sometimes over 62% of the time.

Among those that answered always, often, or sometimes, the biggest age bracket in each respective category was the category of patients ranging from 25 to 34 years old. The 18 to 24 year old bracket is likely low due to the fact that most patients will be on their parent’s insurance until age 24, and will use their parent’s doctors as a result, regardless of research.  

A key method that patients used to conduct research was to look at online reviews of the doctor in question. Those that always, often, or sometimes factored in online reviews made up just short of 50% of this poll.

A breakdown by state shows us where patients are most likely to research a doctor’s reviews before scheduling an appointment. Patients in states like CA, TX, FL, MD, MI and the District of Columbia are the most likely to look at online reviews before visiting a doctor.

That being said, patients, on average, did not want this information directly from the doctor’s website. Around 60% of patients said that the doctor’s personal website was either slightly important or not important at all.

However, when patients were asked if the doctor’s website was important after the doctor had been selected, results showed that almost 60% of patients considered access to an online portal to be somewhere between important and very important.

One of the last questions asked patients how important the proximity of the doctor’s office to their home. The results from this poll suggest that patients are, on average, factoring the physical location of the doctor’s office as a slightly less than important factor in their decision.

In summary, a variety of factors go into a patient’s doctor selection, both within and out of a doctor’s control. Depending on the patient, details like a doctor’s history of malpractice, the proximity of their office to the patient’s home, and a doctor’s bedside manner, can all weigh into a patient’s doctor selection.

The survey results displayed above are solely designed to provide general knowledge to the public and are a part of attorney marketing. The survey results were gathered anonymously and randomly by an independent marketing firm and should not be viewed as factors necessarily applicable to a reader’s specific situation. This survey was not conducted by the law firm of Weiss & Paarz. Weiss & Paarz did not take any steps to verify the accuracy of its findings.



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