Doctors opening their practices to new patients need an online presence before anyone walks in the door.
The findings are part of the new analysis “2023 Patient Perspectives: How Patients Find and Choose Their Doctors,” by healthcare digital consultancy Tebra. The survey of 1,221 patients in the United States found that they use online consumer experience reviews and reports to choose new doctors and other healthcare providers.
The conclusion: “Doctor loyalty is a thing of the past,” with patients willing to search online and take their healthcare needs to new doctors.
“As healthcare becomes more consumed, patients expect the same modern advancements and conveniences they experience in other activities, such as shopping or banking,” said Kevin Marasco, Tebra’s chief marketing officer, in a press release. “To stay competitive, physicians must provide quality care and use technology to attract and retain customers.”
The report contained some important lessons for practicing physicians:
- Being online is “non-negotiable for attracting new patients.” Three in four people look online to learn about doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals, especially when looking for new providers.
- Texting is the most popular way to reach patients about appointments.
- Patients would use social media with their doctors and other healthcare providers if they could. Only 18% of respondents said they follow their doctor’s office on social media, but 45% said they would if their doctors posted regularly.
Visits are dropping
The study recorded the generation, education level, household income and ethnicity of the patients. In the 12 months ending November 2022, 69% visited a GP; 48% went to a dentist; 29% saw a specialist; 16% saw a mental health provider; 13% saw other caregivers, while 13% saw none of them.
Primary care and dental numbers fell 13% and 20%, respectively, likely due to a looming recession, a shortage of doctors or being too busy, the survey said. Telehealth appointments fell 45%, indicating a possible overcorrection in the return to face-to-face appointments.
Arrange a time to meet
When booking their meetings, 39% of patients said they want their healthcare providers to make it easy online. Another 37% said they want easier ways to contact the practice, 34% said they want more communication between visits, and 30% said they want opportunities to do more online. There were 23% who said they wanted more frequent check-ins and visits and 22% wanted more telehealth appointments.
Technology can speed up visits: 93% of patients said they would fill out registration materials online before the appointment.
But technology can’t help doctors who are unavailable, as 62% of patients said they would prefer appointments to be available when patients need them. Patients said other top attributes for physicians are quick responses to questions and concerns (55%), hospitable staff (53%), good listening skills (50%), short wait times (47%), online access to medical records (41%). , flexible or late hours (37%), online appointment booking options (36%), telehealth appointment options (23%), and online payment option (22%).