LYNDHURST, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--‘Tis the season for shopping. While some consumers are busy snapping up stocking stuffers and sale-slashed electronics, there are millions that will need to flex their shopping savvy in the search for a doctor.
The new public and private exchanges have not only made it possible for more than 30 million Americans to shop for health insurance for the first time, they have also created a huge surge of “doctor shoppers” from these newly insured Americans looking for doctors covered by their new insurance. Add to that the individuals changing plans during traditional employer-based open enrollment, and we’ll be seeing more Americans than ever looking for a new doctor during December and January.
In a recent Vitals Index survey, more than 40 percent of people said they would switch doctors if he or she didn’t take their insurance. Other reasons cited for switching doctors included disagreeing with a diagnosis (21 percent), if their doctor moved to a further location (17 percent) or if they didn’t receive the appropriate follow-up after an appointment (13 percent). And a full 10 percent even said that they would switch physicians if they were left waiting for more than 30 minutes!
So how will these health care consumers shop? According to Vitals, a market leader in providing online tools that enable consumers to make informed decisions about the cost and quality of their medical care, most start their search with a referral from their current doctor or friends and family. From there, they reference online review websites or insurance websites and magazine “Top Doctor” picks.
"It's great to start with a list of doctors you get from a trusted source, but online review sites like Vitals are able to provide the background data that you can't get elsewhere," said Mitch Rothschild, CEO of Vitals.
According to Vitals, consumers are looking for specific characteristics and quality measures in a doctor. For instance, more than 75 percent prefer the intimacy of a small practice compared to a larger group practice that may be resource rich. And when asked what’s most important in a doctor, consumers ranked the amount of time a doctor spends with them and a physician’s bedside manner above prestigious academic credentials or the latest technology wizardry.
“Patients tend to have a specific type of physician that is right for them and the decision relies on a number of factors, many of them based on emotions rather than credentials,” said Rothschild. “If patients don’t trust their doctor, they are less likely to take their advice and stick to a treatment regime. If you don’t have that, it’s time to assess the situation and find someone that you’re more comfortable with. It will make you healthier in the long-run.”
And it’s important to either call your doctor or find a new one now: January is the most popular month for people to see their doctor as they kick off the New Year with a routine check-up.
Vitals aims to make better health possible. We are a leader in providing online tools that enable healthcare consumers to make informed decisions about both the quality and cost of their medical care. Through health plans, hospitals and our leading consumer websites, Vitals helps more than 150 million people each year access information for better, more affordable care. The Vitals Index is an ongoing report about the state of doctor-patient relationships based on proprietary data and surveys.