By Erin Jospe, MD, chief medical officer and SVP of account management, Kyruus.
As clinicians, we pride ourselves on our ability to provide care that meets the clinical needs of our patients and to call upon our colleagues when their skills are needed. We advocate for our patients in word and deed, and we are committed to our common mission of caring for our fellow human beings with warmth, sympathy, and understanding as much as with scalpels and drugs. We took the Hippocratic Oath, and we execute upon it in a deeply personal way.
However, for something that is inherently so personal for many of us, it is shocking to learn that so many of our patients—60%, in fact—are prepared to switch to another provider. It feels like a betrayal, and we can’t help but feel hurt just a little if we continue to cling to the idea that healthcare should be more than merely transactional.
Healthcare consumer research shows that patients do continue to value the quality of their interactions and experiences with us, with 84% saying that our communication skills and approach are extremely or very important to them. Likewise, 88% of respondents hold our clinical expertise in the same regard. So why are so many looking for new providers?
The answer is access. Access in the form of a sooner appointment. Access in the form of online scheduling. Access in the form of a more convenient location, accurate insurance information, and insightful feedback from other patients like them. Access is what matters when it comes to where and with whom consumers choose to receive their care.
Being seen quickly is consistently one of the top priorities consumers cite when selecting a provider. Nearly 60% have searched for a provider who could see them sooner and 39% have actually switched to see a different clinician as a result. We can conclude from this that having alternative sites of care and delivery mechanisms that can accommodate this need for timeliness can, at a minimum, keep patients within our networks.
Because convenience is such a prominent driver in patient behavior, we need to embrace it by either creating space within our schedules – which is often nearly impossible – or integrating with other care modalities, such as through virtual visits and urgent care or retail clinics, when appropriate, to ensure our patients’ needs are met.