NEW YORK — According to new research, about three in four patients keep a “mental scorecard” of everything they like and dislike about a doctor’s office.
In a recent poll of 2,000 Americans — including 1,500 who have health insurance and 500 who don’t — almost four in five respondents (79%) place importance on things like timeliness and wait time when seeing a doctor.
When deciding to stick with the same doctor, two-thirds also place importance on how personable and engaged their doctor is, and 39 percent have switched doctors because the office staff was not friendly. Another two in five respondents found themselves at a new office because of a change in their insurance. Thirty-five percent did so to find a doctor who’d be a “better fit.”
The poll, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of practice technology leader ModMed, also asked respondents about their experiences with the technology their doctor’s office uses. Overall, nine in 10 say they place importance on their doctor using the latest technology.
For 61 percent of respondents, being able to make online appointments is an important factor when deciding whether or not to stick with a doctor. Before attending an appointment with a new doctor, 38 percent check out the doctor’s office website, and almost three-quarters (74%) place importance on online reviews when selecting a new doctor.
Four strikes and you’re out!
After the appointment, 59 percent say they are more likely to pay a bill faster if they have the option to do it online, and 44 percent prefer to access test results either online or through a website portal. Interestingly, Americans will give new doctors an average of four chances before moving on.
“The survey demonstrates that patients want to be able to easily schedule appointments and communicate with their provider before, during and after an appointment, a trend that was emerging before the pandemic, but which has sped up as a result,” says Daniel Cane, CEO and co-founder of ModMed, in a statement. “Patients are increasingly interested in taking a more prominent role in managing their healthcare. From scheduling their own appointments to accessing medical records to making payments from their phone, the appetite for patient participation is growing.”
Although 38 percent of those polled have noticed an influx of new telehealth or virtual appointment options, another 38 percent prefer to have first-time appointments in-person, as opposed to the 20 percent who prefer a virtual visit.
The survey also suggests that patients want telehealth to remain an option after the pandemic. While two-thirds feel that routine, virtual doctor visits are not as effective as in-person ones, almost one in four (22%) believe that virtual visits are especially beneficial for urgent or time-sensitive visits.
Communication is still key for doctors and patients
When the appointment time arrives, nearly half the poll (46%) prefers that their doctor use a tablet to review their medical history or take notes. These preferences also extend beyond the appointment; 46 percent prefer to request prescription refills through an app, and two in five would rather send messages to their doctor virtually.
After their first appointment, respondents were divided on the type of appointment they prefer for a follow-up. One-third favor a mix of both in-person and virtual, compared to those who’d rather have one or the other (37% vs. 26%, respectively).
Regardless of where the appointment takes place, 70 percent find it important for their doctor’s office to engage in follow-up communication. More than one-third (36%) prefer that follow-up communication be over the phone, and 23 percent prefer an email.
“The key thing for me as a physician is seeing patients rather than charting. Looking directly at my patients takes on additional importance and meaning. Because our electronic healthcare record technology works seamlessly on an iPad, it enables me to spend more time face-to-face with patients,” says Veling Tsai, MD with Caring ENT.