“There are few relationships more important to your health and well-being than the one you have with your physician,” said Mitch Rothschild, CEO of Vitals. “But millions of Americans are struggling with this key relationship. Our research reveals deep similarities between the search for love and the search for a new doctor – from the arduous process of finding and getting to know a potential partner, to the heartbreak that comes from ending a relationship.”
Among other findings, the survey shows that Americans have similar emotions when ending a relationship with a doctor to those they would have when breaking up with a romantic partner. More than 90 percent of Americans said they would feel frustrated if they had to find a new primary care physician – one in five would even be angry.
That is not to say everyone is happy with their current primary care physician. Only 21 percent called their current physician their “one and only,” while 31 percent reported the relationship was “good enough” for now. More than 37 million are considering finding a new physician, and 81 percent say they trust online patient reviews.
“We have found that patients gravitate towards a specific type of physician that is right for them,” Rothschild added. “The decision on your ‘Dr. Right’ relies on a number of factors, many of them based on emotions rather than credentials. The good news for patients is that, unlike dating, you can turn to patient reviews in order to better assess your physician options.”
What a Patient Wants
So, what are Americans looking for in a doctor?
Most (71 percent) prefer a physician with less technology and more time for patients over one with the latest technology but less time to spend one-on-one. Even more (78 percent) prefer a primary care physician at a smaller, more intimate practice over one working at a larger practice. Finally, 71 percent say they prefer a physician whom they personally connect with, versus one with stellar credentials.
The “She” Factor
For generations, both men and women have preferred the traditional image of a doctor as a man. Today, however, men and women generally prefer a physician of their own gender. But there is a stark contrast in the strength of preference among younger generations. More than half of 18-34 year-olds prefer a female physician, compared to only 44 percent of adults over the age of 55. When broken down further, 71 percent of women in the 18-34 age group prefer a female physician, with 39 percent strongly preferring a woman.
“The good news is that women make up the fastest growing demographic in the physician workforce today,” Rothschild said. “The bad news is that with the pending doctor shortage, female-led practices may not be able to keep pace with demand. Patients thinking of switching to women-run and women-focused practices should do so soon.”
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Vitals from September 21st – 25th, 2012 among 2,319 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
Vitals empowers consumers with the tools and services they need to take charge of their health. Vitals is the only website dedicated to helping patients find doctors that meet their needs, request appointments and prepare for their visit. Used by over 11 million visitors each month, Vitals makes it easy for patients to find and connect with quality medical care. Visit Vitals on Facebook or connect with Vitals on Twitter.
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