Consumers and Physician Quality

By January 29, 2018Commentary

All the efforts going into trying to measure and report the quality of care delivered by physicians doesn’t do much good if consumers don’t use it.  Physician services specialist Grand Rounds provides some relevant data or thoughts on the topic.   (Grand Rounds Report)   Historically, consumers have tended to evaluate quality based on factors like convenience, the friendliness of office staff, the attention of the doctor, and references from family and friends.  The company surveyed over 1100 patients to glean insights into decision-making in regard to physician choice.  One finding was that consumers might be willing to trade-off convenience for quality, but it depends on what quality information is presented to them and how.  When presented with different approaches to quality information, some were four times more likely to generate a response under which the patient would trade appointment availability for a physician believed to provide higher quality.

The doctor profiles that were more likely to motivate use of higher quality physicians (let’s be a little careful here, what Grand Rounds may mean is a doctor who practices the way a particular payer wants them to) gave more of textual wrap around raw quality metrics.  The patients who saw a profile for example that was more detailed in saying that a doctor more often prescribed drugs that might not work or that patients were less likely to return to, were far more motivating in terms of consumers at least saying they would change their behavior.  Always have to see what would actually happen in real life.  And the change in reported decisions was greatest among those patients who initially prioritized things like convenience highest.  This kind of work in identifying how to shape consumer behavior around physician use is enormously significant to many health system participants, including the providers themselves and payers.

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