Blue Cross or Blu-ray: Nearly Half of Adults Spend More Time Researching Latest Gadget Than Their Doctor

Study Finds Consumers Want More Information on Doctors Online

Jan 13, 2011, 08:00 ET from Insider Pages

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- According to the recent Patient Choice study released by Insider Pages and conducted by Harris Interactive®, U.S. adults with a primary care physician spend more time researching the latest electronic gadget or a gift for a friend than they do selecting their primary care physician. At the same time, the majority of U.S. adults with a primary care physician wish they could find more comprehensive information about their doctors online.

While the online ratings and reviews category has seen explosive growth in recent years across a number of categories such as consumer electronics, healthcare has lagged far behind, and consumers have more or less settled for what they can find out about their doctors from health insurance websites. The end result is that many consumers don't favor one source of information to evaluate potential doctors outside of their insurance companies' websites. Compounding this problem is the belief by many of those with a primary care physician that the recently passed Healthcare reform bill will require them to switch doctors. Between November 10 and November 21, 2010, Insider Pages commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct the telephone study among 2,020 adults aged 18+ of whom 1,490 have a doctor they consider their primary doctor.

The results also suggest that many people base their choice of doctor on the convenience of the doctor's office location, as opposed to other important factors such as patient ratings, the doctor's malpractice records or expertise.

Detailed findings include:

Patients Want More Transparency

The study indicates that the majority of consumers with a primary care physician are not satisfied with the amount of information they can find online about doctors. They feel like they are making choices and decisions about providers with an imperfect set of information.

  • Two-thirds (67%) of adults wish they could find more comprehensive information about doctors online.  
    • Almost three-quarters (73%) of people under 35 agreed that they wanted to be able to find more comprehensive information about doctors online.
  • More than half (51%) of adults agree it is hard to find information on a doctor.  
  • About seven in ten (71%) adults wish doctors would share information about their medical background and expertise online.
    • Almost four in five (78%) of those adults aged 18 to 34 said they wish doctors would share more information online.

Healthcare vs. Home Electronics

Consumers enjoy and have become accustomed to researching consumer products online. When the information is available (as it is in abundance in consumer electronics and gifts) they will pore over it before making a decision. Because finding such data on doctors is much more difficult and rare, Americans have lowered their standards in trying to find as detailed information about doctors. As such, almost half of adults said they spend more time researching the hottest electronics than they do their doctor and a majority agreed that they rarely research specialists to whom they are referred.

  • Over two-fifths (42%) of adults agree they spent more time researching the latest electronic gadget than their primary care doctor.
    • Half (50%) of adults under age 55 spent more time researching the latest gadget than their doctor.
  • Almost one-half (49%) say they spent more time researching a gift for a family member or friend than researching their primary care doctor.
  • Nearly three in five (59%) adults agree they rarely research a specialist who they were referred to by their primary care doctor. Men (64%) are more likely than women (55%) to agree.

Location, Location, Location

In the absence of easily findable quality metrics on doctors, consumers are selecting doctors in their health plan based primarily on location.

  • Nearly half (47%) of adults with a PCP agree they chose their doctor primarily on location and not information about the physician's expertise, malpractice record or online reviews.  

Pass It On

Beyond factors such as insurance accepted by the doctor and location of the doctor's office, recommendations from family and friends were the next most important deciding factor in choosing a doctor. The overwhelming majority of U.S. adults with a primary care doctor stated they would recommend their doctor to friends or family.  

  • For one quarter (25%) of adults with a PCP, word of mouth is the most important factor aside from their insurance plan when deciding if a primary care provider was right for them.
  • About nine in ten (91%) adults with a doctor agree —with 73% strongly agreeing— they would definitely recommend their primary care doctor to a friend or family member.  

The Changing Face of Healthcare

Once they've found a primary care physician, many adults worry that the recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) would require them to change their doctor.  

  • Over two-fifths (42%) of adults agree they are worried that they will be required to change their doctor as a result of the new healthcare reform bill.
    • Adults with a PCP who affiliate themselves with the GOP were significantly more likely (61%) than their Democrat (25%) or Independent (45%) counterparts to agree they worried about being required to change their doctor.

To help make it easy for consumers to find comprehensive information on doctors – from patient reviews, board certification, malpractice and sanction records to specialty, insurance carrier, gender, locality, ratings and years of experience – Insider Pages launched their Doctor Finder tool last spring.   When given access to this range of information, consumers fully digest it. The average user of Insider Pages Doctor Finder clicks on 12 page views for each visit. Since launching Doctor Finder, "Health & Medical" has become the number one trafficked category on Insider Pages. The Insider Pages Doctor Finder contains comprehensive data and patient ratings and reviews on over two million doctors and one million complementary / alternative medicine providers like physical therapists, nurse practitioners and chiropractors.

Details about Insider Pages Doctor Finder can be found here:


This Patient Choice study was conducted by telephone within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Insider Pages between November 10 and 21, 2010 among 2,020 adults aged 18+ of whom 1,490 have a doctor they consider their primary doctor. Results were weighted for age, sex, race, education, region, number of adults, and number of voice/telephone lines in the household where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population. For a full methodology, please contact Jenny Davis.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit

About Insider Pages

Insider Pages™ ( is a place where people go to read and post first-hand reviews of local businesses and service providers such as doctors, dentists, therapists, contractors, personal trainers and more. Insider Pages has over 2,000,000 customer-written reviews and over nine million people visit Insider Pages each month. In May of 2010, Insider Pages launched Doctor Finder, a tool that enables users to find highly rated doctors near them that meet key search criteria of the user such as insurance accepted, specialty, years of experience, gender and location.  Doctor Finder includes comprehensive profiles of over two million doctors and dentists and one million alternative and complementary care providers in the United States. Insider Pages is a subsidiary of CityGrid Media (, an IAC (NASDAQ: IACI) operating company, and is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Media Contact:

Jenny Davis for Insider Pages

Dotted Line Communications

Phone: 925-935-2558

SOURCE Insider Pages