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Home / News & IndustryManaged Care Insight and Analysis
Updated: Nov. 18, 2008
Survey Reveals Top Qualities For Consumers Choosing A Doctor

A new survey from the American Board of Medical Specialties found that more than 9 out of 10 Americans ranked communication skills and board certification highest in important qualities they look for in choosing a doctor.

When it comes to choosing a doctor, most Americans rank bedside manner and communications skills at the top of the list of qualities important to them, far ahead of the doctor’s hospital affiliation, place of training or office location, according to a survey commissioned by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), a not-for-profit organization that oversees the board certification of U.S. medical specialists.

Ninety-five percent of respondents ranked communications skills and bedside manner as important, with board certification ranked as important by 91 percent.

When asked to select the "most important" physician attribute, 34 percent named bedside manner and communication skills.

Although 25 percent of respondents listed board certification as the "most important" physician attribute, the survey also showed that the majority of respondents didn’t understand what board certification is, nor have checked to see if there doctor was board certified.

"While the vast majority of respondents said board certification is important to them, most didn’t understand the meaning of board certification," said ABMS President and CEO Dr. Kevin Weiss. "Sixty percent incorrectly believe that a doctor has to be board certified to practice medicine and only 45 percent of survey respondents had ever checked to see if their doctor is board certified. Board certification is actually a voluntary process a doctor undertakes to demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning and proficiency in his or her medical specialty."

According to Weiss, one reason for the information gap may be the difficulty people have in accessing information about their physicians. More than half (57 percent) of respondents said it is difficult to find useful, clear information on doctors.

Other findings from the survey:

  • Half of respondents do not ask questions or check out the qualifications of a specialist when they have one recommended to them by their doctor.
  • Just under a third (31 percent) ask questions about the doctor’s qualifications and 28 percent researchthe doctor’s qualifications before making an appointment.
  • Americans have gone to different lengths to check out a doctor. Checking to see if a doctor is board certified is something 45 percent have done whereas only 5 percent have paid for a report on a doctor.
  • Twenty-three percent say they have checked to see if a doctor has ever been sued for malpractice or if they have ever been disciplined by a regulatory board.
  • Forty-two percent have researched a doctor online using a variety of different Websites. Of these, two-thirds (66 percent) have used WebMD or a similar site while 65 percent have gone to the Website of a specific hospital, clinic or doctor’s office.
  • Half (54 percent) have researched a doctor on the Website of a specific specialty or professional association.

Address: American Board of Medical Specialities, 1007 Church St., Evanston, IL 60201; (847) 491-9091, www.abms.org.


  This article was taken from:
The Executive Report on Physician Organizations

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