What Patients Look For When Choosing an Obstetrician

10 Jun 2022

How are you, and your practice, positioned to meet this criteria and potential questions related to these deciding factors?

Safety & Comfort

Many women find it difficult to reveal the most intimate parts of their body – even to a doctor.
How safe and comfortable you make a newly pregnant woman feel about sharing the changes her body is going through will make a big difference to her journey and ultimately her decision to choose you as her obstetrician.

Reassurance and normalisation of common pregnancy experiences by setting expectations and explaining possible new changes for new mothers is both helpful and trust-building.

Referrals & Word of Mouth

Most soon to be parents take the time to research a doctor’s credentials, reviews, and ask for feedback on online forums for other past patient’s experiences before committing to a decision.
While doctor referrals are often a significant deciding factor in a patient choosing their care provider, patients are becoming more educated and seeking to take control of their health outcomes. For this reason, peer reviews and recommendations – sometimes even from complete strangers – now often play a bit part in a patient’s choice to pursue a referral to a specific care provider, or to reassure them that they’re making the right choice.

The more experience a doctor has with a particular condition or procedure the patient might be looking for help with, the more likely they are to be considered as a choice.

If you have specific skills or experience in specialist areas of practice or treatment, be sure to list this prominently on your website and materials so you can build up trust in your services before your patient even meets you.

Gender

It might seem dated and an old-fashioned criteria for selecting a health provider these days, but gender still plays a part in a patient’s decision to choose their obstetrician. Knowing they will need to openly discuss personal information, some patients might feel inhibited or awkward in front of an obstetrician or gynaecologist of a specific gender.
On the plus side, this would seem to be less of an issue if a patient is seeking specialist support for a serious health condition or complication.

The hospital you practice at

With hospitals (especially private) offering a wide variety of benefits and inclusions now, a major factor in decision making for choosing an obstetrician, is the hospital at which they practice. It’s not uncommon for soon to be parents to choose their hospital first, based on benefits, rooms, and care options, and then choose their obstetrician second from the range of obstetricians available at that hospital.

Have you considered the type of patients you might be seeing more regularly, purely due to the hospital you provide services at?

Communication style & rapport

Your approachability and style of communication will also play a part in whether a patient decides to choose you as their care provider after the first meeting.

Ensuring your patients feel safe and free and welcomed to ask all questions, without feeling rushed by the deadline of a short appointment time, can make a big difference.

Being conscious of your potential new patient, their past experience, or lack of experience and understanding, and any fears or concerns, as well as being respectful and accommodating to any specific plans or goals, is critical to guaranteeing any soon-to-be parents feel safe and confident having you guide them through the journey.

Birth Plans & Preferences

Hand in hand with your communication style is the criteria for accepting preferences and birth plans.
Whether a particular obstetrician can work with their preference for birth (eg, vaginal after caesarean, water birth, etc), or what a prospective obstetrician thinks about particular procedures like inductions, caesareans, epidurals, or forcep delivery, can all be deciding factors for a patient.

Be sure of your own opinions in these areas and be confident in explaining your preferences or recommendations (with reasoning) to any prospective new parent that might have questions. With new information, and an obstetrician who cares about the right birth plan for them, patients are more likely to be flexible and understanding of your recommendations for their journey.

Wait time

It’s great if you’re busy, but if prospective patients have to wait too long to see you, this might deter them from making that first appointment.

What can you do to ensure your ideal new patients aren’t missing out on seeing you, just because you’re great at what you do!

Cost

Do you bulk bill appointments, or are there costs involved? Is your care covered under the patient’s health cover, or will there be substantial out of pocket costs? Being upfront and transparent with your fees and structure (even before a prospective new parent makes and enquiry) ensures there is no confusion and surprises for both parties, and new patients are able to make an informed decision about whether you’re the right provider for them based on budget.

So where do you start?

Choosing an obstetrician can be a daunting task for prospective new patients.

There are many factors that play into this decision for any soon to be parents, but the most important thing is transparency and clarity in what benefits you offer patients so that any prospective patients can make a quick and informed decision about whether you are the right choice. No one wants surprises during childbirth!

The obvious truth remains. You might not be the best fit for all patients. Ensuring you offer the best care to the patients that do choose you guarantees you meet all of the important criteria – and most of all, provides more opportunity for people to share their positive experiences with you, with their peers and via reviews.

 

We’re committed to helping obstetricians and gynaecologists around Australia improve their patient care and outcomes – not just through systems and the latest innovations.