Survey: Patients will leave if they’re unhappy

Consumers assume their doctors are clinically competent, but they judge them on their interpersonal skills, according to a survey and focus groups conducted for the "Indiana Eye on Patients" study. The study was sponsored by the Indiana State Medical Association, the Indiana Hospital & Health Association, and the Indiana University School of Medicine, all in Indianapolis. The telephone survey gathered responses of 1,000 Indiana residents, and 113 consumers participated in 14 focus groups across the state. Here are some of the key findings:

- About half (52%) of survey respondents described their relationship with their primary care physicians as excellent. However, fewer African-American consumers (39%) had that level of satisfaction.

- Women and baby boomers (those in the 35 to 54 age range) were more likely to rate their relationship with their primary care physician as poor.

- When asked how likely they would be to change doctors if they weren’t happy with the care provided, 83% of respondents said they would be "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to change. Again, women and baby boomers were the most likely to say they would change doctors if they were unhappy.

- 37% of respondents said they had changed physicians because they were unhappy with the care they received; two-thirds of those who had changed doctors were women.