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Providing patients web-based data to inform physician choice: if you build it, will they come?

Journal of General Internal Medicine

Access to Information, Adult, Attitude to Health, Clinical Competence, Decision Making, Female, Humans, Internet, Male, Odds Ratio, Patient Satisfaction, Physician-Patient Relations, Sampling Studies, Physicians, Family, utilization, Probability, Questionnaires

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      Despite growing emphasis on public reporting of health care quality data, available data are often ignored. To evaluate the usefulness of web-based physician-level data for patients choosing a new primary care physician (PCP). Patients seeking a new PCP (n = 2225) were invited to view web-based information including PCP credentials, personal characteristics, office location and hours, and patient experience scores. Patient experience scores included validated measures of interpersonal quality, appointment access, care coordination, health promotion, and patient recommendations of the PCP. After viewing the website, participants indicated their preferred PCP and completed a study questionnaire. Of the invited participants, 17% visited the website (n = 382). Patient experience scores were cited most frequently as important to physician choice (51%). Among these measures, patients' highest priorities were interpersonal quality (37%) and patient recommendations of the PCP (41%). For patients citing these priorities, the odds of choosing a highly scored physician after viewing the data was nearly 10 times that of choosing such a physician by chance (odds ratio (OR) = 9.52 and 9.71, respectively). Targeting patients known to be making a health care decision appears to promote the use of performance data. Patients particularly valued data concerning other patients' experiences and, after viewing the data, made choices well-aligned with their priorities.

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