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How much does gender matter when choosing an OB/GYN?

October 3, 2012 in Medical Care

2012 will be my 15th year as a Urogynecologist – an OB/GYN who specializes in the treatment of incontinence and pelvic prolapse.  Every so often a patient will ask me or one of the staff members in my office “wouldn’t I be better off going to a female doctor for these problems?” This is a legitimate question.  As a male practitioner of women’s medicine and surgery, here are some of my thoughts:

One assumption you might make is that women must be inherently better as OB/GYN’s because of their personal experience of being female, but this isn’t as much of a plus as it might seem.  Sometimes your personal experience may actually impair your ability to empathize with someone having a different experience from you. If I was female and never experienced painful menstrual cramps and you (my patient) were terribly bothered by them, I might discount your experience.  Deep understanding and empathy come from participating in the care of thousands of women with gynecologic problems and all the different experiences they have, and choices that they make. 
Let me be clear.  I am NOT in any way implying that males are inherently BETTER as OB/GYN’s. All successful physicians derive their competency from the sum of their experience of listening to thousands of patients. I have not heard any discussion about whether or not only people who have had cancer can truly be competent as oncologists.  Read the rest of this entry →

What Factors Are Important to You in Choosing Your Doctor?

September 14, 2012 in health care costs, Member Stories

When business analysts take a look at the health care industry in America, they often find both striking similarities and radical differences between what consumers say about retail and what patients say about health care. Studies on health care services underscore the fact that a doctor’s office is, in many senses, a business, even though people don’t tend to think of health care as a “consumer industry.” New studies are finding that when it comes to choosing doctors, consumers are using some of the same criteria that they would at the check-out register of a department store or other retailer.

A Friendly Experience

Some of the newest results on surveys of patients as customers come from PwC Health Research Institute, a group that surveyed several thousand patients to get a better picture of what today’s patient is looking for in a medical provider. Part of what PwC found is that a friendly greeting is twice as important at the door of the doctor’s office as it is in a bank or a big-box store. That’s big news for practices that haven’t invested the time and effort to make sure there’s someone personable sitting at the front desk. It’s also a good look at how medical offices can tune in to what patients really expect in today’s health care industry.

Price Not a Factor?

Studies also routinely find that price is not the big factor in patient provider selection that it is in retail. Read the rest of this entry →