Although Hong Kong people are famous for 'shopping around' for healthcare, most would prefer to see a family doctor as their first point of contact, according to a study published in this month's edition of the Hong Kong Medical Journal.
The study, "The concepts of family doctor and factors affecting choice of family doctors among Hong Kong people', aimed to determine how the Hong Kong public views the concept of a 'family doctor', including what patients want and expect from family doctors and how they themselves behave when seeking health care for different types of conditions.
After conducting a telephone survey of 1204 Cantonese-speaking residents, the researchers, from the Hospital Authority and The Chinese University of Hong Kong, found the three most important features patients looked for in a family doctor were "Clearly knowing my physical conditions", providing "fast-acting and effective treatment", and being a "doctor with friendly and sincere attitude".
Surprisingly, cost was not a major consideration with 'low consultation fee' ranked as one of the least important factors involved in the choice of doctor. Patients were also unlikely to base their decision on the doctor's gender, rating "doctor's gender is the same as me" as the least important factor.
While most respondents said they would prefer to see a family doctor, not many of them actually did so. Only 35% regularly visited the same doctor, while 45% said they sought out different doctors whenever they had a flu-like illness.