Finding the right match between consumers and providers is a key part to establishing a long-term relationship between patients and healthcare providers. Health systems are well-equipped to facilitate the relationship and consumers recognize their critical role in this.
To better understand trends in patient access and what consumers prioritize most when choosing providers, we recently surveyed 1,000 consumers about how they search for, select, and schedule appointments with healthcare providers.
When selecting a provider, consumers place a high priority on the reputation of the hospital or health system, with 4/5 identifying it as extremely or very important. And yet, as evidenced by the online resources consumers most often reference, health systems are not usually the first source of information in the provider search. Regardless, it’s important for health systems to offer an informative, engaging experience to consumers when they do land on their websites. Note that of those online researchers who stated a health system website did not meet their expectations, 55% said information about healthcare providers was sparse.
Health systems can separate themselves from the pack by providing the information that empowered consumers are searching for. For example, consumers typically trust patient ratings and reviews, seeing them as another data point in the list of priorities for selecting a provider. With nearly half saying they trust completely or trust them very much, it may be that consumers see reviews as an opportunity to glean information that is not as readily available during the research phase, such as a provider’s bedside manner. By providing these on their own provider profiles, health systems can reduce the risk that patients will leave the site to find provider information elsewhere.
Once consumers have selected a provider, what happens if they ultimately deem the provider to be a poor fit (e.g., did not treat the patient’s condition or have a good bedside manner)? Most did not schedule a second appointment. What’s more, nearly half indicated they searched for a second provider on their own, placing the relationship between patient and health system at further risk as they could seek care elsewhere.
Establishing trust during the provider search and selection phase is critical for health systems to establish a long-term relationship with their patients. When consumers are presented sparse or inaccurate provider information, it inhibits them from finding the provider who meets their varied needs, and can lead to provider mismatches that cause a poor patient experience and/or suboptimal care—potentially resulting in patient leakage.
Download the full Patient Access Journey report for more insights including more on what consumers value when choosing providers, functionality they want to see on health system websites, and much more!