Quantifying the Importance of Orthopedic Surgeon Attributes by the Public

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Conference Proceeding

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NTRODUCTION: With an evolving patient population, new modalities and strategies for finding surgeons are available to our patient population. Few studies evaluate what attributes are currently important to our patients, and what modalities may be most effective.
An online survey was developed and distributed in January 2022 using an online platform. In total, 510 responses were collected. Participants responded to questions regarding their demographics and the relative importance physician characteristics. This included technical competency, prestige, experience, and non-modifiable attributes and were graded on a unipolar Likert scale. Descriptive statistics including mean, standard deviation, and percentage were performed.
Respondents on average were 40.4 years old, Caucasians (83.14%), and with a bachelor's degree (45.49%) or higher and earning between $25,000-74,000 USD (56.07%). Most applicants lived in a suburban location (47.05%) in the southern region of the US (40.78%). Medically, 60.59% of patients were privately insured and averaged 2.91±4.99 PCP visits annually. In total, 32.55% had seen an orthopaedist in the past.
When evaluating various surgeon attributes on a unipolar Likert scale (Table 2), surgical skill was quantifiably the most important with 81.96% ranking it as "most important." This was followed by years in practice (Most important: 50.39%), which was ideally reported to be 11.2±6.13 years (Table 3). Medical school was third (Most important: 35.69%), outranking qualities such as bedside manners (Most important: 29.80%), fellowship training location (Most important: 18.43%), and prestige factors such as academic affiliations (Most important: 15.69%). Conversely, the three least important factors were surgeon gender (Least important 60.2%), race (Least important: 65.1%), and religion (Least important: 68.63%).
Foreign medical graduates were generally seen as no different (53.92%) or positively (27.84%) from US trained surgeons (Table 3). While 62.55% respondents reported no preference for surgeon gender, male surgeons were actively preferred by 24.51% - double that of female respondents (12.75%) in the context 54.12% female respondents.
Lastly, respondents were asked regarding the most effective method of marketing. Referral from a physician or therapist was ranked #1 by 72.16%, while family and friend recommendations were #2 with 23.33%. Social media and traditional advertisement were #3 and #4 and collectively and made up less than 5% of respondents. A total of 78.63% still utilized the internet to research their surgeon. This survey did not specifically assess different social medial platforms nor prestige or number of followers concerning the surgeon.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Skill and experience are the most important attributes in our cohort when choosing an orthopaedic surgeon, above academic performance, race, gender, or religion. Despite the rise of social media platforms, physician referrals and reputation remain the most important marketing tool to orthopaedic surgeons.


American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting, March 7-11, 2023, Las Vegas, NV

Mid-America Orthopaedic Association Annual Meeting, April 19-23, 2023, Miramar Beach, FL.

Michigan Orthopaedic Society Annual Meeting, June 16-19, 2022, Mackinac Island, MI.