Finding Dr. Right: New Survey Reveals Word of Mouth the Most Used Resource When Looking for a Physician
New research released today by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) reveals that 1 in 3 adults have switched or dropped their primary care physician in the past five years and that having no health insurance is the most common reason for not seeing a physician. However, these trends may change as an estimated 30 million individuals are expected to gain access to health insurance plans when open enrollment for the new health insurance marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) begins on Oct. 1.
To help individuals and their families understand important questions to ask when searching for a physician, the AOA offers a variety of tips and access to resources for finding the right physician.
“Each of us is different when it comes to our medical care,” emphasizes Jennifer N. Caudle, DO, an AOA board-certified family physician in Philadelphia. “Choosing a physician who meets your unique needs can have significant benefits to your overall long-term health.”
Dr. Caudle, an assistant professor in the department of family medicine at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, NJ, suggests some initial questions to ask:
- *Does the physician’s office take your insurance plan?
- *Is it located close to your home or work?
- *Does it offer evening or weekend office hours, or do the hours fit your schedule?
- *If your physician is unavailable for an appointment, can he or she recommend another physician who can see you?
A Personal Decision
The AOA’s survey reveals that adults use a variety of criteria to narrow down their choice for a physician, but the most important factors when selecting a physician for themselves or a loved one are:
- *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%)
“Like seeking a mate you trust and feel comfortable with, finding Dr. Right is a highly personal decision,” explains Valerie E. Goodman, DO, an osteopathic family physician at the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health Centreville Family Practice and an advocate for rural healthcare. “For some, especially those in rural areas, the ability to care for all members of the family—men, women, children, and the elderly—or the distance from the physician’s office to home or work, may be the most important factors in deciding which physician to choose.”
The AOA’s survey also looks at the tools most often used when finding a physician. The top five resources adults utilize when selecting a physician for themselves or a loved one are:
- *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%)