Quality v Cost
by Tracy E. Hill, Ph.D.
According to a recent study published in May 2020 (https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/10.1377/hlthaff.2019.00237) and led by Adam J. Schwartz, M.D. out of the Mayo clinic found that adults are willing to pay more than 20% more for a highly rated physician than they are for a lower rated physician. Yet, the study revealed no significant difference in patient outcomes (i.e., care, readmissions) for higher priced doctors over less expensive colleagues.
The study included 200 older adults scheduling hip or knee replacements. Accordingly, physician’s star rating was a predominant factor over affordability in deciding which physician to schedule with. Participants in the study were willing to pay more than $2,500 extra for every hospital star rating gained. Moreover, physician star ratings had an even greater psychological impact on participants whereby they were willing to pay more than $3,100 extra for every physician additional star rating. Yet, patients who relied on online provider reviews placed less emphasis on star ratings than prior experience within their healthcare system.
Star ratings have become a key metric for defining patient and consumer experience and satisfaction with various types of services from medical to handyman. Other studies related directly to patients, have determined other factors that effect patient decisions for choosing their provider including but not limited to distance to travel, referrals from friends and family, out-of-pocket expenses and provider reputation. Studies have shown that although healthcare proximity to one’s home is important; travel times were less important in choosing a provider than physician and hospital star ratings. In fact, younger patients are more likely to select a provider closer to home than older patients with a price of $11.45 per mile near their home.
Although one should be cautious of online and in-house star ratings. Oftentimes these ratings are posted by the facilities or providers themselves to attract more patients.
We recommend the following to find the best provider for you:
Ask for referrals. Ask your friends, family and colleagues. In addition, ask your primary care physician or other doctor who they would send their family to.
Check ratings. Check online ratings, in house ratings as well as independent ratings such as https://www.healthgrades.com/, https://openmd.com/directory/reviews and https://www.vitals.com/ to name a few.
Perform a Background Check. It’s your health and it’s no joke. Make sure the provider is board certified in their specialty at https://www.certificationmatters.org/ and rule out any license issues through their professional licensing board which will show any tarnishes on their license. Each state has a verification of license board such as https://search.dca.ca.gov/ in California or https://www.pals.pa.gov/#/page/search for Pennsylvania where it will state if any disciplinary actions have been taken against the provider. Keep in mind that just because no actions are reported on a state site, it does not imply that the provider has not had any investigations or questionable practice. However, if you do your due diligence, and do steps 1, 2 and 3 it may mitigate any potential negative experiences.
Stay healthy and enjoy the new year!
Photo by Intricate Explorer (Boulder CO) @intricateexplorer