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Your practice may be in the wrong location, costing you patients


Survey shows that proximity and convenience are driving patient health care decisions

Cost will always be a driving factor for patient when choosing a doctor, namely in whether the provider is in-network or not. But location and proximity ranked as the second-most likely factor for all types of care, according to JLL’s Healthcare Patient Consumer Survey.

Waiting room: ©Monkey Business - stock.adobe.com

Waiting room: ©Monkey Business - stock.adobe.com

Location and convenience are part of the care experience, and patients also consider the quality of service and comfort of the facility. These all contribute to creating positive experiences that bring patients back to a particular provider, according to the survey.

“It’s not surprising that cost is the No. 1 factor for patients, but convenience is also key when making health care-related decisions,” said Jay Johnson, U.S. Practice Leader, Healthcare Markets, JLL, in a statement.“Patients want to get care quickly and get on with their day. Through providing a broad coverage network and optimizing site selection, providers can deliver convenient care for patients, which was shown to improve a patient’s overall experience and the likelihood that they will return to a provider.”

Balancing convenience and cost

Location and proximity ranked even higher when care was urgently needed. For urgent care and emergency care, insurance, location and proximity, wait time and past experience were most important. Reputation, physical accessibility, and hospital network are not all important for these care types, according to the survey.

This shift in sites of care leads to patient volumes increasing for outpatient services and decreasing for inpatient, prioritizing convenience.

“What this means for health care providers and health systems is that a strong location strategy can both improve reach and improve positive outcomes,” said Alison Flynn Gaffney, FACHE, president, Healthcare Division, JLL, in a statement. “It’s critical to strike the right balance between convenience and cost – health systems need to balance the benefits of being close to their target populations with the cost of a new facility or a provider’s time in transit from a local clinic to the hospital.”

The survey indicates that convenient locations are those close to where patients would be running errands, such as retail locations or in small office neighborhoods.

Convenience is vital to attract younger patients

JLL found that the younger the person, the less likely they are to use primary care, as younger generations apply a “wait-until-it-breaks model” versus proactively seeking regular care. Nearly 80% of adults 65 and older have two or more chronic conditions, increasing their need for continuous care and more than 70% of Baby Boomers received primary and preventative care within the last year, as opposed to only 26% of Gen Z. Millennials and Gen Z were also more likely to report receiving urgent care, emergency care and outpatient behavioral health than other generations, according to the report.

“Younger populations seek medical care on a more reactive basis, waiting for an urgent or emergency need rather than regularly scheduled primary care services,” said Kari Beets, senior manager, Research, JLL, in a statement. “Older generations are more likely to have relationships with providers due to more frequent care needs, and smaller retail locations with primary care providers can allow convenient access to primary care.”

Providers can locate urgent and standalone emergency care near younger populations to improve access and wait times, make it easier to find or schedule same-day appointments with a primary care provider and increase transparency of costs for sick visits for urgent and primary care – as younger generations with less savings may postpone care due to concerns about cost, according to JLL.

Providing telehealth is one way to address wait times and increase access for care. Telehealth remains steady in usage and acceptance. The percentage of respondents that had a telehealth visit remained steady from the 2022 survey.

“In-person visits in physical facilities is – and will always be – an essential part of health care, but providers also need to make sure to accommodate telehealth in their space planning,” Johnson said. “Telehealth is a key tool in addressing patient access in remote areas or for those without adequate transportation for an in-person visit.”

Reputation and comfort over newer facilities

After insurance and location, physician quality and reputation ranked highly as factors for a healthcare decision; in fact, it was ranked in the top five by over 40% of participants in all categories, according to the survey. Referrals play a larger role in specialist, outpatient surgery and inpatient care, with 45.5%, 52.6%, and 50.5% of respondents placing it in the top five, respectively.

JLL found that quality of service affects patient experience most, followed by comfort of facilities. Additionally, respondents noted the age of facilities does not have a significant impact on patient experience, meaning through quality maintenance and attention to details that affect patient comfort like waiting rooms, cleanliness and safety, a health care provider can overcome an old facility.

“Designing facilities for patient comfort and implementing a strong facilities management program can create more positive experiences and increase loyalty,” Gaffney added.

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