The patient experience: Where the digital and healthcare worlds overlap
A new report from Doctor.com, a New York City-based physician practice management startup, shows how much the Internet and digital channels are influencing healthcare, specifically when it comes to the patient journey.
To conduct research, Doctor.com surveyed 1,718 U.S. adults in 2018. All respondents were aged of 18 to 65+.
The company found 80 percent of surveyed patients have used the Internet to make a healthcare-related search in the past year.
Beyond searching procedures, the digital trend impacts the provider selection process as well. Sixty-three percent of respondents indicated they’ll choose a certain doctor over another due to a strong online presence, which includes the availability of relevant and up-to-date information on the Internet. Plus, 60 percent said they have picked one provider over another based on a positive online reputation.
The thoughts of fellow patients also influence what healthcare consumers decide to do. Eighty-one percent said they’ll read reviews about a referred provider occasionally, frequently or always. And 60 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t set up an appointment with a provider who had poor quality reviews.
Speaking of appointments, booking them is another area where online resources come into play. Nearly half — 45 percent — of patients said they prefer to use digital methods like mobile apps or email to request an appointment. Plus, 42 percent will select a healthcare provider because of the ability to use online scheduling.
This echoes the findings of a previously released survey from customer experience agency Verndale, which found consumers most strongly want healthcare apps to provide the ability to manage appointments.
The patient experience continues long after the appointment is over. “Good healthcare professionals know that the journey isn’t over when the appointment ends,” the Doctor.com survey notes. “Continuous engagement is key to enabling a lasting patient relationship.”
This engagement comes in various forms. For instance, 61 percent of patients reported that ease of appointment booking is a major factor in five-star-worthy healthcare providers. Plus, 42 percent indicated text and email appointment reminders also influence their loyalty and likelihood to return to a provider more than once.
The survey is also careful to point out that it’s not just millennials who are hopping on the digital bandwagon. Seventy-six percent of respondents over the age of 60 said they’ve used the Internet to make a healthcare-related search in the past year. And 90 percent of respondents over age 60 will occasionally, frequently or always change their mind about seeing a referred healthcare provider with a rating of fewer than three stars online.
“It’s time for healthcare professionals to recognize that digital channels influence patients’ decisions at all stages of the patient journey, and invest their efforts and resources accordingly,” the Doctor.com report reads.