American patients have very particular considerations when selecting their physicians, according to Harris Poll, a market research company that tracks the sentiments, behaviors & motivations of American consumers. According to the poll, the top results are: 

  1. How long it takes to have an appointment—47% 
  2. Hospital affiliation—49% 
  3. Office location—69% 
  4. Whether physician covered by health insurance plan—72%

These rationales all hold validity, but what comes as a shock is the lack of precautionary factors, such as medical training and prior facility-based incidents (lawsuits, board penalties, etc.). As a physician, my opinions contrast from those observed in this study. 

When I and others in the medical field ask for recommendations for ourselves or our families, we seek out health professionals with competence. In this case, "competence" refers to doctors using the best practices in diagnosis and treatment that have typically been proven through scientific research. 

Examples of competence include: 

  1. A primary care doctor who adds a second blood pressure medication when a patient's hypertension is still not controlled on just one pill. (Effective hypertension treatment requires two or more medications the majority of the time.) 
  2. A cardiologist who does NOT order a stress test on a patient just because they are older or someone in their family has had a heart attack. (Stress tests should only be ordered if a patient is having cardiac symptoms.) 

Aligning health insurance plan design

The primary factor listed for care selection focuses on the percentage of costs one's insurance plan will cover under a facility or physician. In this case, coverage is viewed as a proxy for out-of-pocket payments. 

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