Study: Patients Like Their Primary Care Doctors Better When They Get to Choose Them

Study of methods to optimize patient-physician match in managed care settings

From 1998 to 2000, investigators with the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute conducted a randomized controlled trial that tested a process designed to match patients with a primary care physician of their choosing and subsequently examined the effects of that process on patients' satisfaction with and trust in their physicians.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Strengthening the Patient-Provider Relationship in a Changing Health Care Environment national program.

Key Findings:

  • Retention of the physician at one year was much higher in patients who were encouraged to choose their own physician, than those not given the choice of a physician.
  • Satisfaction was significantly higher in patients choosing their own primary care physician than in those assigned a physician: 67 percent given a choice rated their experience "excellent" or "very good" compared with 57 percent of those not given a choice.
  • Among patients who used the Internet to select a physician, satisfaction with the physician and the technology-assisted selection process was high.