Binary Fountain released the findings of its second annual “Healthcare Consumer Insight and Digital Engagement” survey with the goal of getting an updated view into how patients search, evaluate and share their experiences with their physicians. The survey shows an increase in patients’ dependence and reliance on online ratings and review sites to make informed healthcare decisions.
Americans Are More Comfortable Sharing their Healthcare Experiences Online
Today, social media platforms are being used to discuss and share all elements of a person’s life, which now includes healthcare experiences. The survey results showed that consumers have become increasingly comfortable with sharing their personal healthcare experiences online. In particular, millennial consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 are the most active over social media and are the most inclined to share their healthcare experiences online.
According to the survey, 51 percent of Americans say they share their personal healthcare experiences via social media, online ratings and review sites, a 65 percent increase from the 2017 survey results. Specifically, 70 percent of millennials have shared their physician or hospital experiences online, and 68 percent of “young millennials” between the ages of 18 to 24 said they have shared their healthcare experience online — a 94 percent increase from last year.
The survey finds that Facebook is the most used channel to share healthcare experiences for ages 25 to 54. However, unlike last year, consumers between the ages of 18 to 24 say Google is their preferred online platform to share their healthcare experiences. In 2017, survey respondents between the ages of 18 to 24 selected Twitter as their most used channel to share healthcare experiences.
Growing Dependence on Online Ratings and Review Sites
The survey shows that healthcare consumers continue to depend on online ratings and review sites. More and more, consumers are seeking online healthcare advice and relying on unfiltered, transparent patient feedback to determine whether a healthcare practitioner or practice is worth a visit. The below survey results reflect the true impact that online ratings and review sites have on consumers, as well as, the continued rise in healthcare consumerism.
Ninety-five percent of respondents find online ratings and reviews “somewhat” to “very” reliable with 100 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 find online ratings and reviews “somewhat” to “very” reliable and 97 percent of respondents between the ages of 25 to 34 do as well.
Likewise, 70 percent of Americans say online ratings and review sites have influenced their decision when selecting a physician, and even when referred by another doctor, 41 percent of consumers still check online ratings and reviews of doctors and specialists.
Of the respondents that utilized websites/platforms to choose a physician, 34 percent selected hospital and/or clinic’s website as a primary source, followed by Google (29 percent), WebMD (18 percent), Healthgrades (15 percent) and Facebook (12 percent).
Expectations Remain High for Patient Care
Patients today have high expectations for customer service and bedside manner. The survey examined, through multiple-answer questions, what factors matter most to patients when rating or evaluating a physician. The survey results revealed:
- Consistent with the 2017 survey results, 48 percent of Americans across all age groups selected “a friendly and caring attitude” as the most important factor.
- Whereas, 47 percent of consumers selected “ability to answer all my questions” followed by 45 percent of consumers who selected “thoroughness of the examination” as the most important factors.
- Overall, 52 percent of women believe “a friendly and caring attitude” is the most important factor, while 45 percent of men believe “ability to answer all your questions” is the most important factor.
Patients are Losing Patience in Waiting Rooms
Across the board, patients indicated that “waiting” and “time” tend to be the most frustrating things about visiting the doctor. For example, the survey results show:
- 43 percent of consumers across all age groups selected “wait time” as the most frustrating part of visiting the doctor.
- Whereas, 10 percent of consumers selected “cost and payment” followed by “awaiting exam results” (10 percent) and “scheduling” (9 percent).
- On average, young millennials (ages of 18-24) are the most likely to be frustrated with “having to schedule an appointment” than any other age group.
“The survey results underscore the significance of online ratings and reviews as online reputation management for physicians becomes ever-more important in today’s healthcare consumer environment,” said Aaron Clifford, senior vice president of marketing at Binary Fountain. “As patients are becoming more vocal about their healthcare experiences, healthcare organizations need to play a more active role in compiling, reviewing and responding to patient feedback, if they want to compete in today’s marketplace.”