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Consumer Surveys: Finding a Doctor, and Finding Out About Electronic Medical Records

By Clive Riddle, October 4, 2013

Two studies released this week examine aspects of consumer-physician relationships.  The American Osteopathic Association conducted a survey on consumer physician selection. AOA found that “word of mouth” is still the reigning tool for physician selection even in this digital age. Once consumers have selected a doctor, their physician’s may not be doing all that much to communicate with them or educate them about digital health records, Xerox concluded in their fourth annual study on electronic medical records.

The AOA survey found the top five resources adults utilize when selecting a physician for themselves or a loved one  to be:

  • Word of mouth, i.e. family, friends, coworkers (65.9%)
  • Insurance provider directory (51.9%)
  • Physician rating websites, i.e. Vitals, Healthgrades (22.8%)
  • Hospital website (10.8%)
  • Consumer review websites, i.e. Yelp (10.5%)

Here’s an interesting finding  about younger adults that embrace the digital age more than they order counterparts:  “when selecting a physician for themselves, younger adults are much more likely to use “word of mouth” than older adults (77.1% among 18-29 year olds, 64.6% among 30-49 year olds and 59.8% among 50-79 year olds).”

Regardless of the tools used, the AOA survey found the most important factors in the selection decision to be:

  • Acceptance of insurance plan (83.3%)
  • Bedside manner/empathy (60.5%)
  • Proximity of office to home, work or school (57.4%) 
  • Convenient office hours (42.9%)
  • Medical specialty (37.5%)

The AOA survey also addressed de-selection, with the top reasons for leaving a doctor being:

  • moved out of the area (34.7%)
  • didn’t feel physician was a good fit (33.9%) 
  • changed insurance provider (21.2%)
  • physician retired or moved (19%)

Meanwhile, Xerox found that “only 29 percent of those who have a doctor have been informed their medical records will be converted to digital format. While this shows a 13-point improvement from four years ago, the survey results continued to show that the majority of Americans (83 percent) have concerns, such as security, about EHRs and less than one-third (32 percent) want their medical records to be digital (compared to 82 percent and 26 percent in 2010, respectively).”

Here’s the infographic Xerox released with the survey results:

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