|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
- 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.