Dallas-Fort Worth health consumers spend more time researching a car than they do a physician or hospital, according to a survey by Healthgrades and Harris Interactive.
About eight out of 10 local residents spend up to five hours researching to select a new physician or hospital, and about half of those spend less than an hour. By contrast, nearly half spend more than 10 hours researching the purchase of an automobile.
The survey of 337 DFW residents who had selected a physician in the last three years also found:
- Despite the lack of time researching a new physician, consumers said the relationship with their physicians ranks second in importance only to that of a spouse. The physician relationship was rated ahead of that with an employer, school, or neighbor.
- The decision to select a physician or hospital was more important than that of picking a college for themselves or a child or relocating to a new neighborhood.
- Other than patient satisfaction and physician-hospital affiliation, less than half are aware of key information on physician and hospital performance, such as mortality rates, use of evidence-based medicine and volume of procedures performed. Almost all agreed they have a right to this information.
- A hospital’s location is nearly as important to consumers as its mortality rate. About nine out of 10 rate a hospital’s use of evidence-based medicine, patient satisfaction, emergency department reputation, comparative performance and complication rate as important. However, about one-third to one-half know how to find that information.
- Likewise, about nine out of 10 considered a physician’s communication skills, use of evidence-based medicine, chronic-disease management skills and patient satisfaction were important. However, about half knew where to find that information. DFW residents were more likely than other U.S. residents to consider a physician’s office location when choosing a doctor.
“It’s somewhat shocking that we spend (nearly) as much time researching a gym as we do our surgeons,” said Archelle Georgiou, MD, a strategic adviser to Healthgrades on quality initiatives. “This kind of information could mean the difference between a smooth surgery and complications, or even worse, life and death.
“Consumers should do their homework before becoming a patient and take advantage of hospital and doctor performance information based on objective measures, such as complication rates and mortality at hospitals, as well as patient satisfaction information.”
Steve Jacob is editor of D Healthcare Daily and author of the new book Health Care in 2020: Where Uncertain Reform, Bad Habits, Too Few Doctors and Skyrocketing Costs Are Taking Us. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.