Most patients don’t have a specific ownership preference, but those that do overwhelming prefer independent private practices
A survey from Software Advice of 1,000 U.S. patients found that they overwhelming prefer independent private practices versus corporate-owned ones, and 58% of respondents said they were aware of who owned the practice they visit.
Most patients (54%) have no preference between an independent or corporate practice, but for those that have a preference, independent practices (38%) are clearly preferred to corporate ones (8%).
The biggest draw of an independent practice was a stronger doctor-patient relationship, with 78% appreciating the more personal relationship with their provider, 60% indicating a greater sense of trust, and 57% saying the quality of care is higher.
The report authors note that all of this is good news for independent physicians, as over a third of patients want to work with an independent practice, and there is a chance to sway the other 54% of patients with good marketing strategies that highlight the benefits of working with a non-corporate practice.
The survey found that for those who preferred walk-in clinics, urgent care facilities, or other corporate medicine sites, the patients indicated the biggest advantage was speed:
Affordability also comes into play, as most patients have to take time off work to see a physician, so the quicker the appointment, the less time off from work.
But corporate-sites fared poorly in the quality category, with 26% saying walk-in clinics provide high quality care, and that number was even lower (19%) for urgent care facilities.
The survey authors stated: “While corporate health care practices have the advantage when it comes to seeing patients sooner and conducting speedy exams, independent primary care providers take the win in terms of earned trust and established relationships with patients.”
The challenge for independent practices is to convince patients they are better off establishing a relationship with them for both their short-term and long-term health.
The survey notes there are two strategies independent practices can use to their advantage. The first is to use technology to boost speed and convenience for patients to take away the biggest advantage of corporate-owned sites. Using automated appointment scheduling, check-in, or intake systems can help get patients into the office and exam room faster. Adding telemedicine as an option can also help patients develop a relationship with a practice thanks to the convenience factor.
The second strategy is to make sure patients know you are an independent practice. The survey found that 42% of respondents didn’t know who owned the practice they were visiting. With so many preferring independent over corporate, the report states it’s important to make sure people know you are not corporate-owned.