With the Affordable Care Act, more Americans than ever before are embarking on the great crusade to find a new doctor.

You’d think that skill and bedside manner would top the list of traits we would all like to see in our physicians — but it’s harder than ever to make a good call when pounding the pavement for someone who you will let tap your knee reflexes with a rubber hammer.

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association surveyed more than 2,000 people and asked “What’s most important to you when choosing a doctor?”

Here’s a peak at the answers, and how the percentage of people who placed a “very important” on their requirements:

  • Accepts my health insurance (89%)
  • Convenient office location (59%)
  • Physician’s years of experience (46%)
  • Part of a trusted group of practice (44%)
  • Word of mouth (from family/friends) (38%)
  • Referral from another physician (34%)
  • Physician’s rating on websites (19%)

Interestingly, the physician ratings on websites came in at #7 — but that’s a jump from just a couple of years ago when no one really looked up doctors’ “grades” online.

And that number is sure to go up.

I admit I’m still not a big fan of the “rate a doctor” websites — mainly because I don’t feel like  being rated like a movie or an auto repair shop.

But one big thing that really needs fixing is the few number of ratings that show up on a site — usually it’s less than 10 (hardly a representative sample). The other in need of an overhaul is accuracy. One rating site had three wrong addresses plus an incorrect specialty and medical school for me.

Hopefully these sites will improve.

But until they do, I’m still a big proponent of word of mouth from a trusted family member or friend. And if you need a specialist, don’t be afraid to ask your PCP who he or she would send a loved one to see. Check on board certification. Call the office — check on courtesy of the staff, telephone hold times and learning how long it takes to get an acute or routine visit.

Also take a look at disciplinary actions by the state medical board: colorado.gov/dora/licensing/Lookup/LicenseLookup.aspx

And finally, don’t be afraid to check and see if a doc will do a freebie “get-to-meet you visit.” We used to them all of the time years ago, but in today’s world of busy schedules, it’s harder than ever to fit these into a busy schedule.

But then again, it’s worth a try — and a lot better than looking at rankings that are better suited for planes or pizza.

Recent Blog Entries From Dr. Dave Hnida


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