6 of 10 People Choose a Doctor Based on a Convenient Location

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

location building When a patient chooses a doctor or a hospital, the decision process is often driven, not by quality factors, but by simple geography. Check out these surprising and insightful numbers…

Three recent surveys seem to agree; “location” is a highly significant consideration. What’s more, according to Healthgrades data, “convenient location” is more than twice as important to consumers selecting a physician or a hospital than success rates or outcome data.

Here are some of data points that I recently shared in my marketing talk at the Cleveland Clinic Patient Experience Summit. Many hospital marketers, CEOs and healthcare/patient experience pros at the Summit were shocked that people choose hospitals based upon location and friendly staff vs. quality.

Choice of Physician: Consumers who have selected a physician in the past three years are more concerned about convenient location (62%); friendly office staff (56%); than success rates (22%).

Choice of Hospital: Consumers who have selected a hospital in the past three years are more likely to choose a hospital based on convenient location (58%); amount of copay (45%); than based on outcomes data (30%).

Source: 2014 Healthgrades American Hospital Quality Report to the Nation

And, for the still-to-be-convinced crowd, the findings run parallel to a prior Healthgrades study about consumer choices:

Factors Most Often Considered When Selecting a Physician

  • Whether my physician is covered by my health insurance plan (72%)
  • The physician’s office location (69%)
  • Which hospital he/she is affiliated with (49%)
  • How long it takes to get an appointment with that physician (47%)
Source: Consumer Research: America’s Readiness to Choose a Doctor or Hospital; Healthgrades; Prepared by Harris Interactive; October, 2012

And a third survey—this one by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA)—similarly revealed “location” as one the five most important factors adults consider when choosing a physician for themselves or a loved one:

  • Acceptance of insurance plan (83.3%)
  • Bedside manner/empathy (60.5%)
  • Proximity of office to home, work or school (57.4%)
  • Convenient office hours (42.9%)
  • Medical specialty (37.5%)

And where do consumer/patients find information? The AOA survey reports that adults use the following top five resources when finding a physician:

  • Word of mouth, i.e. family, friends, coworkers (65.9%)
  • Insurance provider directory (51.9%)
  • Physician rating websites, i.e. Vitals, Healthgrades (22.8%)
  • Hospital website (10.8%)
  • Consumer review websites, i.e. Yelp (10.5%)

The selection of a physician or medical facility nearly always employs a combination of reasons. And an increasingly informed and engaged public means more people are shopping carefully…and often, close to home.

FOR RELATED READING, see these previous posts:

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.



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