3 recurring themes in how patients pick doctors

One in three adults has changed primary care physicians during the past five years, according to a recent survey from the American Osteopathic Association. We've reported previously on the reasons patients leave doctors, but the AOA's research breaks down the factors that draw people to a particular office in the first place.

Not surprisingly, whether a doctor accepts a patient's insurance coverage rated first (83.3%). However, many of the service-related reasons patients stay and go come down to overlapping concepts.

Whether you're looking to attract new patients or keep the ones you have, consider how your practice performs in the following critical areas:

  • Empathy and bedside manner. According to the AOA's survey of 1,099 adults, nearly 61 percent said they used their perception of a physician's bedside manner or empathy to narrow their choice of a new physician. Many currently practicing doctors haven't received training in how to express these traits, but thanks to increased awareness that dynamic is slowly changing.
  • Patient experience. The number one way patients found new doctors (nearly 66 percent) was via word of mouth from friends, family and coworkers, according to the survey. This means that every patient's experience with your practice has a far-reaching effect, whether these individuals talk about you with their friends or share their thoughts online. Consistent with previous reports, a small but not insignificant (10.5 percent) swath of survey respondents said they use physician review and rating sites to help select a doctor or practice.
  • Convenience. While 57.4 percent of respondents said an office's proximity to their work, home or school was a big deciding factor, not far behind were those who reported that convenient office hours helped drive their practice-selection decision (42.9 percent). However, practices need to evaluate whether the cost to expand office hours will be offset by the resulting competitive advantage. In capitated or shared-risk environments, research indicates that the answer may be yes.

To learn more:
- see the announcement and infographic from the AOA