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Want to find new patients? Get set up in cyberspace


Survey examines patient preferences for online presence, communications, social media.

Physicians who open their practices to new patients need an online presence before anyone walks in the door.

Want to find new patients? Get set up in cyberspace

Kevin Marasco

The findings are part of the new analysis “2023 Patient perspectives: How patients find and pick their doctors,” by Tebra, a practice growth health tech company. The survey of 1,221 patients across the United States found they use online reviews and reports of consumer experiences to choose new physicians and other health care providers.

The conclusion: “Doctor loyalty is a thing of the past,” with patients willing to search online and take their health care needs to new doctors.

“As healthcare becomes increasingly consumerized, patients have grown to expect the same modern advancements and conveniences that they experience when doing other activities such as shopping or banking,” Tebra Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Marasco said in a news release. “To stay competitive, doctors must provide quality care and use technology to attract and retain business.”

The report offered some key lessons for practicing physicians:

  • Being online is “non-negotiable for attracting new patients.” Three out of four people look online to learn more about physicians, dentists, and other health care professionals, especially when seeking new providers.
  • Texting is the most popular way to reach patients about appointments.
  • Patients would engage in social media with their physicians and other providers if they could. Just 18% of respondents said they follow their doctor’s office on social media, but 45% said they would if their physicians posted regularly.

Visits going down

The survey recorded the patients’ generation, education, household income, and ethnicity. In the 12 months ending November 2022, 69% saw a primary care physician; 48% saw a dentist; 29% saw a specialist; 16% saw a mental health provider; 13% saw other health care providers, while 13% saw none of them.

The figures for primary care and dentistry were down 13% and 20%, respectively, likely due to a looming recession, physician shortages, or being too busy, the survey said. Telehealth appointments decreased by 45%, indicating a possible overcorrection in the return to in-person appointments.

Set a time to meet

In booking their meetings, 39% of patients said they want their health care providers to make it easy online. Another 37% said they want easier ways to contact the practice, 34% said they want more communication in between visits, and 30% said they want opportunities to do more online. There were 23% who said they want 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 the registration materials online before appointments.

But technology may not help of physicians are not available, because 62% of patients said they most want available appointments when the patients need them. Patients said other top characteristics for physicians are prompt responses to questions and concerns (55%), welcoming staff (53%), good listening skills (50%), short waits (47%), online access to health records (41%), flexible or late hours (37%), online options for booking appointments (36%), options for telehealth appointments (23%), and ability to pay online (22%).

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