Survey: Patients want timely care, digital communication

December 9, 2019

Patients are unwilling to wait for an appointment with their physician and will delay care due to difficult scheduling.

Long waits between scheduling an appointment and actually seeing a physician are grating on patients, according to a patient access survey from DocASAP.

Of the respondents, 80 percent said they would prefer not to wait more than two weeks to visit their doctor while 54 percent said they would prefer to see one within seven days, according to the survey.

Preference also splits along generational lines, as the survey found young millennials (ages 18-24) prefer to wait between four and seven days for an appointment, while generation Xers (ages 35-54) prefer eight to 14 days before their appointment. Baby boomers (ages 55 and up) want the quickest turnaround on their appointment with zero to three days.

The survey found that 84 percent of respondents said that scheduling appointments outside of business hours is somewhat to very important to them, and a further 90 percent said that even if their primary care physician was available when they wanted care, they would consider an alternate option. The top alternate care options included:

·      Phone consultation: 50 percent

·      Different doctor within the practice: 47 percent

·      Video consultation: 45 percent

·      Urgent care: 45 percent

·      Walk-in retail clinic: 44 percent

A majority of the respondents, 54 percent, said that they have delayed or put off visiting a doctor because it was too difficult to schedule an appointment. The most challenging aspects of scheduling an appointment included:

·      Long wait time to see a doctor after scheduling: 49 percent

·      Only able to schedule an appointment during business hours: 43 percent

·      Takes too long to schedule an appointment by phone: 42 percent

·      Doctor isn’t available at the time they need care: 41 percent

·      Online scheduling is not a convenient option: 39 percent

Health insurers’ websites and applications are popular among patients as 57 percent of respondents said they used them to search for a physician or schedule an appointment, while 58 percent said they’ve used it to check on costs for a procedure or doctor’s visit. Only 11 percent of respondents said they’ve never used their health insurance plan’s website or application.

“These survey results are yet another example of the need to meet patient demands for accessing care and engaging with healthcare organizations in ways that are convenient and timely,” says Puneet Maheshwari, co-founder and CEO of DocASAP. “Looking ahead to 2020 and beyond, health systems and health plans need to invest in technology designed to optimize access to care for patients and health plan members.”

The survey of 1,000 U.S. adults who had seen a healthcare provider in the last 12 months was performed by marketing research company OnePoll between October 3 and 8.

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