Are You Out-Of-Touch With What Patients Want?

Written by on August 1, 2014 in Practice tips - No comments

Do you use email to communicate with your patients?

No?  Most don’t.  But what you may not know is that this is what the public actually wants!

DocsComputeWEBCatalyst Healthcare Research reported in their latest survey that 93% of adults want to have email communication with their doctor.

A look at traditional vs. online means of communication with physicians was addressed in the new study performed by Catalyst Healthcare Research (CHR).  Results revealed that most people would select a physician who offered communication with email and 25% feel strongly enough to exercise this option despite a charge of $25.00 with each communication.

Study Findings

The survey found that:

  • 84% of respondents in the Baby Boomer group used the Internet to obtain medical or drug information;
  • 62% of respondents in the Generation Y group searched for physician information online
  • 46% of respondents in the Generation X group were interested in viewing lab results online.
  • 44% of respondents were interested in paying medical bills online, including 55% of both the Generation Y and Generation X groups
  • 41% of respondents in the Generation Y group looked for medical procedure costs online

The survey also found that:

  • 57% were interested in dialing a number that offers a call-back feature
  • 30% desired a 24-hour phone number
  • 14% of respondents were interested in a video chat program, such as Skype

Discussion of Results

The founder and President of CHR, Dan Prince pointed out that:

“It’s not surprising that consumers want digital access to things like test results and making a doctor’s appointment. The Internet is quick and convenient and it’s in the best interest of health systems, hospitals, and physician practices to embrace online options for their patients’ healthcare needs. As healthcare changes, it’s crucial that providers stay relevant.”

This study comes on the heels of one done from December 2013 to February 2014, where 433 respondents were asked about which technological devices they use as well as their choice of communication with their physician.

Baby Boomers are the most active online of any group with a surprising 84% using the Internet to seek information about a medical condition, medication or solution to their health condition.

Baby Boomers represent a huge consumer group for American healthcare.  It makes sense, then, to determine how health providers and medical facilities can serve them.

According to the last national study, What’s Reasonable? Patient and Clinical Perspectives in Provision of Service, performed by CHR, feedback reflects a failure of many doctors to meet the huge expectations that Baby Boomers expect in consulting with physicians.

In this survey, Mr. Prince stated:

“We found that Baby Boomers share a set of expectations.  They overwhelmingly agree that doctors and doctors’ offices should be performing certain actions such as providing appointments when they want them, calling them back with test results, and seeing them within 15 minutes of their appointment times.  However, it seems that many doctors have a hard time doing these things on a consistent basis, leading to patient discontent with many aspects of the physician visit,” said Dan Prince, President of Catalyst Healthcare Research, the sponsor of the study.”

Baby Boomers were chosen for the study subjects because they epitomize a major segment of society.

Prince emphasizes now that:

“Baby Boomers are and will continue to be a huge consumer of healthcare in the United States, so they are an important group of people to listen to when it comes to figuring out how providers and health systems can better serve patients. “In this new study, we are able to see how their views compare to other important groups, including the digital savvy ‘millennia’s’.”

With 9 out of 10 patients clamoring for a specific service, wouldn’t you like to be the physician that offers it? Are you staying relevant?

By Barbara Hales, M.D.

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