Blog Post

Choosing Physicians – More Information Is Better

By: Anna Bergevin

In graduate school, I took a class on health economics where I learned about many of the barriers and challenges providers and consumers face in health care markets. Often in such conversations the notion of information asymmetry is raised. Information asymmetry refers to the imbalance in information between consumers and providers. In health care, providers (hospitals & physicians) have better information regarding the product (medical services) than the consumer does. Markets function better when we can reduce such asymmetries.

The University of Utah Health Care system has taken one significant step to provide consumers with better information to guide one critical health decision – choosing a provider. While as individuals we can rely on government licensing requirements to be sure providers meet minimum standards – other factors that influence our preferences may be harder to assess:

-Does the physician have good bedside manner?

-Does this doctor tend to run late?

-Do they communicate clearly to their patients?

In 2012, the University of Utah Health Care system became the first in the country to publicly share the survey information it collects on patient experiences.  For patients interested in using a University of Utah provider, this survey data can guide more informed decisions.

Choosing Physicians, More Information Is Better

Certainly reviews of doctors exist elsewhere on the internet (Yelp, Google Reviews, etc.), but I personally have found this data limited and unsatisfying. Reviews are often sparse, response is affected by self-selection bias, and there is no verification process to ensure the user actually has any experience with that physician or facility. More reliable ratings require an adequate number of reviews from verified patients.

The survey system that the University of Utah Health Care system uses addresses these problems by using robust methodology.  The s