10 Best Cities for Patient Satisfaction

June 20, 2014
Laura Joszt

There are many problems with American healthcare, but one seems to be the inconsistency of the care provided. These 10 cities are better at keeping their patients satisfied.

There are many problems with American healthcare, but one seems to be the inconsistency of the care provided, according to a report from Vanguard Communications.

Depending on where you live will greatly impact how satisfied you are as a patient.

Vanguard collected ratings of individual doctors, group medical practices, clinics, and hospitals in the 100 largest US cities, then ranked each according to the average patient rating on a 5-star scale. The firm scoured online reviews of 46,300 healthcare providers on Google+ and Yelp.com.

“From these findings, I’d say that doctors get much better reviews than hotels, restaurants and retail businesses,” Vanguard Chief Executive Officer Ron Harman King, said in a statement. “Another discovery is that you can find happy patients everywhere, not just in sunny, warm places but also in relatively cloudy and damp locations such as Cleveland and Seattle.”

There are no correlations between city rankings and other statistics, like population size, average income, age, educational attainment, political leanings, or even percent of the population with health insurance, according to Vanguard.

Here are the 10 cities with the highest patient satisfaction scores. (Cities with less than 50 healthcare providers were not eligible for the top 10.)

10. Birmingham, Alabama

Average rating: 3.93

Median age: 35.5

Population: 212,038

Median income: $31,467

Birmingham is perfect proof that living there is no correlation between income and patient satisfaction. The city has the second-lowest median income in the top 10, and its household income is well below the nation’s $51,017.

9. New Orleans, Louisiana

Average rating: 3.97

Median age: 34.9

Population: 369,250

Median income: $36,681

The insured rate in New Orleans is among the lowest (79%) with just one city reporting a lower rate of insured residents (the next on the list, actually). However, it also has one of the highest poverty rates (27.2%). And yet, despite that, the residents are very happy with their healthcare providers.

8. Austin, Texas

Average rating: 3.98

Median age: 31.1

Population: 842,592

Median income: $52,431

© 2006 Larry D. Moore

Austin is a young city and, as such, it has the lowest insured rate with just 78.4% of residents covered by insurance. However, satisfaction may drop in the future: Texas is expected to have one of the worst primary care physician shortages. By 2030, the state will need to increase its primary care physician workforce by 47% in order to maintain the status quo.

7. San Jose, California

Average rating: 4

Median age: 35.2

Population: 982,765

Median income: $81,349

San Jose is one of the most expensive cities in the US to live in, so it’s a good thing the residents are satisfied with their healthcare. The city has the highest median income on the top 10, though its high school graduation rate and insured rate are only in the middle of the pack among the top 10.

5. (tied) Cleveland, Ohio

Average rating: 4.02

Median age: 36.3

Population: 390,928

Median income: $26,556

Chris Gent

Despite the fact that a lot of the categories would seem to work against patients being satisfied, that’s not the case. Cleveland has the lowest high school graduation rate (76.7%), the lowest median income, and the highest poverty rate (34.2%). And, yet, it’s insured rate is roughly the same as other cities in the top with higher median incomes and lower poverty rates.

5. (tied) St. Louis, Missouri

Average rating: 4.02

Median age: 34

Population: 318,172

Median income: $34,384

Like Cleveland, St. Louis has a low median income and a high poverty rate (27%), and yet 89.3% of residents are insured, which is the second-highest on the list. However, St. Louis is one of the most dangerous cities with high crime rates.

3. (tied) Seattle, Washington

Average rating: 4.05

Median age: 36.1

Population: 634,535

Median income: $63,470

The cost of a primary care visit is among the most expensive in the country, though it is the cheapest of 30 cities to get an MRI, according to a report from Castlight. Seattle has the highest high school graduation rate (92.9%). The poverty rate is fairly low (13.2%), but the insured rate (86.3%) is in the middle of the pack among the top 10. It is one of the oldest cities on the list.

3. (tied) Indianapolis, Indiana

Average rating: 4.05

Median age: 33.8

Population: 834,852

Median income: $42,144

Among the top 10 cities, the poverty rate is fairly high (19.9%), while the insured rate is on the low wend (80.3%). On top of that, the median income is lower than the national average, but the cost of living in Indianapolis is lower than the national average.

2. Honolulu, Hawaii

Average rating: 4.14

Median age: 37.7

Population: 375,111

Median income: $72,292

Honolulu is officially the oldest city on the list (although the top city is a very close second), but it has the second-highest high school graduation rate (90.4%), and the second-highest median income. However, Hawaii is the most expensive place to live with a very high cost of living rate of 158 compared to the national average of 100.

1. San Francisco/Oakland, California

Average rating: 4.15

Median age: 37.35

Population: 1.2 million

Median income: $62,743

Since the 2 cities are so close in proximity (roughly 10 miles apart), Vanguard gave them the top spot together despite the fact that San Francisco and Oakland are vastly different in demographics, culture, and mindsets. However, the company treated them as one metropolis with one pool of healthcare providers.

When they are counted separately, though, Oakland’s rating is 4.14 stars and San Francisco just wins with 4.15 stars. The median household income for San Francisco is $73,802, which is much higher than Oakland’s $51,683.

It’s a good thing that residents of the Bay Area are satisfied with their healthcare, though, especially since they have some of the most expensive care in the country.