Understanding Patients' Needs for Access and Convenience in Today's World
The healthcare landscape has evolved drastically over the past several years, and the industry is more patient-focused than ever. With so many options available to consumers, organizations that accommodate for a variety of personal preferences are at a high advantage.
For our third annual U.S. Consumer Trends in Patient Engagement Survey, we partnered with data firm Ipsos to collect responses from 1,004 adults in the United States. The survey dives into the options facing healthcare consumers today and identifies larger trends at work.
Convenience is King
Of all the reasons for choosing a non-urgent care provider – including cost, quality, availability, and personal relationships with doctors – location and convenience are front-of-mind for most consumers. Patients are busy, and a hybrid model of care combining telehealth and in-person services is the best way to increase appointment availability and flexibility. Of those who received care at a retail location, 61% said convenience of location was the top reason for making their selection.
Patients are Satisfied with Provider Communication, but Patient Follow-Up is Lacking
Most survey respondents were satisfied with the level of communication they received from their provider, with an increase in overall satisfaction from our previous survey. However, our 2022 survey also revealed that 20% of all patients did not receive clear post-visit follow-up instructions. Nearly all respondents who had received treatment in the ER (91%) needed some form of follow-up care. However, 34% of those patients did not receive a referral to a provider in the health system and 33% of all ER patients did not receive any follow up communication from the hospital after a visit.
The Phone is Not Dead
Despite the convenience of online booking and telehealth, live voice is a big differentiator for providers. Fifty-seven percent of patients scheduled their most recent appointment over the phone and 89% schedule medical visits via the telephone at least some of the time. Even 46% of younger adults aged 18-24 scheduled their most recent appointment via the phone. The desire to self-schedule is apparent, however, providers must remove common barriers to using the technology for patients to engage. The most common barriers reported were ease of use, appointment availability, training, and multi-language support.
Consumers over the past three years have had varying preferences for email, phone, or text but when you look at channel of activation, the data tells a different story.
Channel of choice isn’t always the channel that will motivate a patient to take action. Health systems should consider activation as a primary goal throughout all types of patient communications to improve adherence to treatment plans and outcomes.
Telehealth Usage is Trending Down
45% of respondents stated they did use telehealth in the last year, a change from previous years. In 2020, 71% of respondents reported having a telehealth visit, and 78% in 2021, showing a downward trend this year. When asked what types of care were preferred for telehealth, patients reported primary care and mental health as their top preferences. At their most recent primary care visit 93% of patients reported having an in-person visit. Telehealth is here to stay in the healthcare ecosystem, but providers should focus on those appointments that can be resolved in a virtual manner.
Delayed Care Persists
Patients are returning to their PCPs, but delayed care is still an industry-wide challenge. Half of younger adults, and 31% of all adults, reported delaying care in the last year. Reasons for delaying care included wanting to avoid medical expenses, lack of appointment availability, not feeling safe returning, and forgetting to schedule. With hospitals reporting sicker patients seeking treatment due to delayed care as well as financial challenges with longer length of stay, now is the time to focus on getting patients back into care for health screenings and other early detection procedures.
Rising Interest in Non-traditional Avenues of Care
Methods for accessing care that go beyond the traditional PCP office are gaining ground. Nearly half of all survey respondents reported receiving care from a non-traditional venue such as a retail location or a virtual care platform. Within this group, 95% indicated that they would visit again. This option is especially popular among younger adults. Sixty-three percent believe that care from a retail venue is just as good as care from their dedicated healthcare provider, compared to 30% of people 55 and older.
Younger Adults Rely on Reviews When Choosing a Provider
With patients expecting more from their providers and actively seeking out the care that best suits their needs, online reviews can make a significant impact. 72% of people aged 18-34 say online reviews have a severe or moderate impact on their choice of a provider as opposed to respondents aged 55+ where only 37% reported the same impact.
Although almost everyone surveyed reported remaining with their care provider in 2022, younger respondents aged 18-34 were more likely to consider an alternative.
Patient preference is a driving factor for change within the healthcare industry, now more than ever. With demand for healthcare high and more options for convenient access available, health systems need to stay on top of engagement trends to better meet consumers’ expectations.