Parental Journey-Choosing a Pediatrician
While there are plenty of articles in the public domain that discuss how a parent should choose a pediatrician, statistics on how expectant and actual parents in the United States choose a general pediatrician are limited. The few statistics that are publicly available indicate that: many parents prioritize recommendations from family and friends; most parents are aware of physician-rating sites; younger parents are more trusting of online reviews and apps; health insurance, office location, and doctor’s experience are important considerations; and expectant parents begin their pediatrician search at different times.
Many Parents Prioritize Recommendations from Family and Friends
- Whether a pediatrician is recommended by a family member or a friend is the top consideration of parents when choosing a pediatrician.
- Fatherly, a media brand in New York that targets dads, polled 1,000 dads in the United States in 2019 and found that the top considerations of parents when choosing a pediatrician or family doctor are as follows: recommendation from family member of friend (26.33%), location (18.05%), information from insurance app or company website (16.47%), referral from another physician (15.40%), online reviews (14.84%), and online resources or apps (8.90%).
- Slightly more than half of the survey respondents say that they have, in one way or another, used recommendations from family or friends.
Most Parents are Aware of Physician-Rating Sites
- Based on a study published in the journal Pediatrics, whose findings were based on a poll of 3,563 parents in the United States, almost 75% of parents then were aware of physician rating websites. Given that the study was published in 2014, it is possible that the percentage is higher now.
- The poll revealed that parents are more likely to choose a family- or friend-recommended pediatrician if said pediatrician has high ratings online. It also showed that parents are less likely to choose a family- or friend-recommended pediatrician if said pediatrician has low ratings online.
- According to an old National Poll on Children’s Health, one that was conducted in 2013 by the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Michigan, almost a third of parents who have sought online doctors’ ratings have avoided a doctor because of bad ratings.
- Forty-three percent of parents who have not actively looked for online ratings report that they do not trust these ratings. The hesitation stems from concerns that the ratings may be fake, there may not be enough ratings, and the ratings may have been influenced by the doctor.
Younger Parents are More Trusting of Online Reviews, Resources, and Apps
- Compared to older parents, younger parents are more trusting of online reviews, resources, and apps.
- Based on the aforementioned 2019 survey of dads, 46.7% of parents have, in one way or another, considered online reviews, resources, and apps in their pediatrician selection process. Of these parents, 41.62% were 25 to 34 years old, while 28.90% were 35 to 44 years old.
- Younger parents appear to place more trust in online reviews, resources, and apps and the ability of these information sources to provide reliable recommendations.
- This finding is no different from the results of a 2013 survey that found that younger parents are more inclined than older parents to perceive online ratings as very important. Based on this survey, 44% of parents under 30 versus 21% of parents over 29 believe online ratings are very important.
- Compared to 19% of fathers, 30% of mothers believe online ratings are very important.
Health Insurance, Office Location, and Doctor’s Experience are Important Factors
- Based on the aforementioned old National Poll on Children’s Health, health insurance, office location, and years of experience are the factors that parents find the most important when selecting their child’s doctor.
- For 92% of parents, it is very important that their health insurance will be accepted by the pediatrician.
- For 65% of parents, it is very important that the pediatrician has a convenient office location.
- For 52% of parents, it is very important that the pediatrician has plenty of experience in pediatrics.
- Parents also find the following factors very important: word of mouth (50%), referral from another physician (40%), and online ratings (25%).
Expectant Parents Begin Their Pediatrician Search at Different Times
- An article written in 2015 by Dr. Alison Mitzner, a pediatrician and a mom, shows that some expectant parents begin looking for a pediatrician soon after learning about their pregnancy, while some expectant parents postpone the search until the last trimester. From the perspective of Dr. Mitzner who is also a mom, expectant parents should start their search in the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy.
- From the perspective of Dr. Kevin Sheahan, a pediatrician and a father to three children, the best time for expectant parents to start looking for a pediatrician is around three months before the baby is due. This is according to an article that was published in 2019.
- Both Dr. Mitzner and Dr. Sheahan are parents based in the United States.
We typically use sources that were published in the past two years. Most of the relevant surveys and statistics were published more than two years ago, however, so we were compelled to expand our research to include older sources. It is not clear if the findings in these older sources are still true today, but there are a few similarities between the older and newer sources that suggest the findings may still be relevant at present. A 2013 survey and a 2019 survey, for example, both show that younger parents are more trusting of online reviews.