Consumers have a hard time finding information about provider quality and an even harder time trusting it, according to The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research who recently released the results of a survey conducted in May and June. The Finding Quality Doctors: How Americans Evaluate Provider Quality in the United States survey was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in which they interviewed more than 1,000 adults, 18 years of age or older.

Consumers were asked their thoughts on what provider quality means, how accessible provider quality information is, how much they trust that information and the connection between provider quality and cost.

“Americans do not think information about quality of health care providers is easy to come by and they lack trust in information sources that tend to produce such indicators,” the report found.

Defining Provider Quality

Respondents varied widely on what provider quality means, but most focused on the doctor-patient relationship. The response categories along with the corresponding percentages are listed below:

  • Doctor-patient relationships and personality (59 percent)
  • Delivery of care or the patients’ health outcomes ( 29 percent)
  • Attentive, listens and or shows interest in the patient (18 percent)
  • Doctor’s ability to accurately diagnose and fix a health problem (11 percent)
  • Knowledgeable doctor ( 8 percent)
  • Caring attitude (8 percent), good bedside manner (8 percent), and time spent with patients (5 percent) and various other personality traits (7 percent).

Provider Quality Accessibility

While access to quality information on providers is growing most respondents reported it would be easier if all doctors publicly shared their quality ratings.

  • Nearly 8 in 10 Americans reported that the quality of care would improve if doctors or health care providers were required to report patient satisfaction or the effectiveness of treatments or procedures they provide.
  • Seven in 10 consumers mentioned that if doctors were required to report health outcomes that quality of care would improve.
  • More than half, (57 percent) say requirements for doctors to report how much they charge would improve quality of care.

Trust in Provider Quality Reporting

Many find it a challenge to find trustworthy quality information about their provider.

  • Less than half, (48 percent) say it is easy to find information they can trust about the quality of care provided by different doctors in their area.
  • Almost a quarter of people (22 percent) say it is neither easy nor difficult to find quality information.
  • A fourth of respondents (25 percent) stated that they find it moderately to very difficult to find information comparing health care quality of providers.

Many Americans say they find provider quality information through friends and family (63 percent), followed by reading or seeing comparative information in a newspaper or magazine (51 percent) or getting a direct referral from a doctor or health care provider (50 percent). Very few reported seeing quality ratings on websites such as Yelp.com or Angie’s List (36 percent) or through an online government website (32 percent).

Connection between Provider Quality and Cost

One thing most consumers agree on is that cost is hard to find but cost and quality information in the same place is a greater challenge.

  • 44 percent report it is very /moderately difficult to find cost and quality information.
  • 22 percent say it is neither easy nor difficult.
  • 26 percent say it is easy.

Overall, the study found great information that reinforces the need for The Alliance’s new Find a Doctor site that incorporates cost and quality information. Our QualityPath® initiative will also be helpful to employers and employees so they can access the highest quality provider at the lowest cost for a high-stake procedure.

To read the full report – Finding Quality Doctors: How Americans Evaluate Provider Quality in the United States click here.