At some point after deciding to live in Nashville following my college graduation, I needed to find a doctor.  Like myself, my friends were mostly from out of state and had few ties to Tennessee.  So, I got online and searched for physicians at a reputable local hospital and chose a provider site unseen and reputation unknown.  While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this tactic, it worked for me.

Finding a medical provider, be it a physician, a nurse practitioner, or a physician assistant can be a frustrating, complicated process for many patients.  We share private details with medical providers so finding someone respectful, trustworthy and with a similar outlook towards health is important.  But, constraints like travel time, insurance coverage and availability throw a wrench in this process making it difficult for some to find a provider that fits their needs.

A recent study by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) reveals that Americans are in flux when it comes to finding a primary care provider.  One in three adults has switched or dropped their PCP in the past five years.  Lack of insurance coverage is the most common reason for changing providers.  With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, we are about to see even more of a shuffle of patients between medical providers.  How will displaced patients choose a new provider?

The AOA study shows that word of mouth is the most common way adults select a new medical provider.  Over 65% of patients indicated they asked friends, family and coworkers for recommendations when looking for a new healthcare provider.  More than 50% of patients used an insurance provider directory either alone, or in addition to asking others when finding a new medical provider.  22% of adults consulted websites such as Healthgrades in their provider search.

Not only will patients be looking for new medical providers in the healthcare reform roll out, they will be looking for the right provider.  The vast majority of patients stated acceptance of insurance plan was the most important consideration in choosing a new provider.  This was followed by bedside manner and empathy as important qualifiers.

Its no surprise that financial considerations as well as how patients are treated are the most important considerations for Americans in choosing a medical provider.  Get these two things covered and your reputation will precede you, bringing new patients flocking to the doors of your clinic.  Treat your patients with respect and empathy (obviously) and they will tell their friends.  New insurance plans are on the horizon for 2014 so get ready to do the shuffle.

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