Word of Mouth Most Trusted Doctor Recommendation


A recent study conducted By the Associated Press’s National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago has found that most Americans trust a word of mouth recommendation in medical areas more than other methods. Over 1,000 people were polled, and the findings had much to say about the state of the American health care system.

The study listed numerous things that patients are looking for in their medical care. The study shows that people trust recommendations from friends and family almost 60 percent of the time. While many people will check for internet reviews before switching doctors, these reviews are taken with a grain of salt. If there is just one bad review, it could be the result of just one unsatisfied patient with an axe to grind. More complaints, however, could be a real sign of a problem. Tellingly the study also revealed that many people are not confident in the way they choose a new doctor.

Only 22 percent of people believe they can gather enough information to choose a good doctor. Even though people are unsure of their care, only four percent of people reported getting bad care. The study found that physicians that work in a team based environment are able to offer their patients better care. A nutritionist can make sure that a patient is eating correctly. Medical assistants are also integral to the team based approach. They can be sure to contact patients for routine check-ups, and offer bedside manner and morale boosters, which close to 10 percent of patients say is an important factor when choosing health care.

Interestingly, most Americans focused on doctor’s personality traits and not the effectiveness of the care provided when listing the characteristics of a quality doctor. Also listed in the Associated Press’s poll were factors that make for poor doctors. The number one problem with bad doctors is inattentiveness or refusal to listen to their patients. Other characteristics of bad doctors include a lack of time with patients and chronic misdiagnoses, coming in at two and three on the AP’s list. A focus on cost is also listed as a poor trait in a doctor.

Along with the poll on what Americans think of their doctors was a list of tips for what to look for in a doctor. Like the lists for good and bad doctors, these tips have a lot to do with communication. Patients are told to look for a doctor that will discuss the pros and cons of any procedures with them up front. People looking for new doctors are also told to avoid doctors that don’t want them to get second opinions.

Easy communication and transparency are important characteristics that patients should look for when choosing a doctor to trust. A new study by the Associated Press National Opinion Research Center lists what prospective patients are looking for in a doctor, including the fact that most people chose their doctors based on word of mouth recommendations. 1,002 people were polled. Other factors that people use to choose doctors are communication and bedside manner.

By Bryan Levy


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