Quality of care has long been a primary factor in choosing a healthcare provider, but convenience and communication are also becoming key considerations for patients. Still, many physicians do not appear to be offering the digital engagement services that can meet those demands.
According to a new nationwide survey conducted by TechnologyAdvice Research, a majority of patients (60.8 percent) said digital services like online appointment scheduling and online bill pay are either “important” or “somewhat important” when choosing a physician. However, when asked what services their current physician provides, less than one-third of patients indicated they have access to either online bill pay, online appointment scheduling, or the ability to view test results and diagnoses online, which are the top three services that patients report wanting the most.
In addition, 68.6 percent of respondents said it was either “somewhat important” or “very important” that a physician follow up with them, yet only 30 percent of respondents reported receiving a follow-up that wasn’t related to bill pay
“Primary care physicians are reporting some of the highest rates of EHR adoption to comply with government regulations and to receive incentives from Meaningful Use, but a significantly lower number of patients claim to have access to these patient portal services,” said TechnologyAdvice Managing Editor Cameron Graham, who authored the survey. “The issue here may not be implementation of digital services, but instead a lack of patient awareness. If physicians are offering these in-demand digital services, a more proactive approach to promoting them is needed and could create an advantage in attracting and retaining patients.”
Patient age also appears to influence what services are expected from physicians. Notably, every digital service listed on the survey was in greater demand among younger respondents. For example, 41.2 percent of patients between the ages of 25-34 said they would like their physician to offer online appointment scheduling, while just 13.5 percent of respondents over 65 said the same. The results also showed that 48.4 percent of the youngest respondents (18- to 24-year-olds) would like to use a smartphone app to schedule online appointments.