HealthAlmost half of Germans feel insufficiently informed when looking for a doctor

Today at the virtual conference of the IGES Institute together with the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV), the study "Transparency in statutory health care" was presented. The results of this study show that almost half of German consumers feel insufficiently informed when looking for a doctor and that it is difficult or impossible to find the necessary information about doctor's offices online.

As part of a representative survey for this IGES study funded by the BMJV, more than 2,000 people were interviewed about their personal search for a doctor.

These are more details:

  • When looking for a doctor, an average of 39 percent of respondents felt that they were only partially informed and four percent felt that they were insufficiently informed. Information deficits primarily relate to the personality of the treating doctors, which services are being offered, and the availability of appointments. Respondents also miss explicit reviews from other patients.

  • The doctors' websites are an important source of information for consumers. When it comes to choosing a doctor, respondents consider personal recommendations and evaluations from other patients as most helpful. The number and variety of reviews as well as the assignability to specific doctors are important.

  • Still, many consumers find online portals for searching doctor's offices to be in need of improvement.

  • Regarding the presentation of information when searching a doctor, most respondents prefer structures that are familiar from online platforms such as Google or Amazon: School grades or star ratings could provide a rough overview, and free-text reviews help in the search for individually relevant information.

Prof. Dr. Christian Kastrop, BMJV State Secretary, commented: "The health system must be geared towards the needs and wishes of patients. This includes their right to a free choice of doctor on the basis of transparent and meaningful quality criteria. With these criteria, the differences in medical care perceived by the patients should also be taken into account."

Iris an der Heiden, study author and project manager at IGES, also explained: "The study shows that consumers, in addition to personal recommendations, search specifically for open patient reviews on the Internet and that they trust themselves to interpret these subjective impressions correctly. Free-field entries help seekers above all to assess the doctor's personal competence and communication skills."

Source: IGES

Further information & study results