Rating/choosing your doctor: what are we looking for? How do we know when we find it?

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Ratings by individual health plans or by HealthGrades or by RateMDs.com or by Angie’s List? (That’s where I just found a roofing contractor!)

Michelle Andrews reflects on the dilemma consumers face in choosing a doctor and in trying to make sense of physician ratings. She wrote on the Kaiser Health News site.

And on the NPR Health Blog. Excerpt:

Health insurance plans tend to evaluate doctors more on cost than on quality. Right now, most consumers still don’t have much incentive to pay attention to costs, because they’re not paying much out of pocket for their care.

In fact, cost remains one of the least important factors consumers consider when choosing a physician, whether primary care or specialist, according to the study. Just under 30 percent of primary care physician shoppers considered cost; for specialists, the figure was even lower: a tad more than 12 percent.

My own doctor recently had me wait in the exam room a few minutes after my original blood pressure measurement was just a few points too high to check off as satisfactory. The nurse checked it again. It had gone down in a matter of minutes. My “white coat hypertension” at play again. They let me go. I was now officially “under control” in that care setting – making the ratings look better.

That’s how shallow and superficial physician ratings can be.


(Photo credit: from Waldo Jaquith on Flickr)

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Sean Kelley

August 4, 2010 at 10:10 am

I had the same moment with my endocrinologist a few weeks ago. My BP is perfect, unless someone in a white coat is taking it. Then it goes up. Of course, I interpreted their retesting (15 minutes later when it was back to normal) was an act of concern by the doctor.