Survey: Patients lean on digital resources when researching health care

Most respondents look online when finding a physician or other care entity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has conditioned the whole country to utilize the internet for everything from groceries to holiday gifts and has continued the trend of patients seeking information on healthcare providers from digital sources.

According to a news release, the 2021 Patient Access Journey from provider search and scheduling platform Kyruus found that for the fifth year in a row digital information sources dominated the way patients research and evaluate care options. Nearly 60 percent say that they use the internet to research physicians while a further 58 percent use the internet to research other healthcare services or care sites.

The survey also found that 60 percent of respondents seek information from healthcare delivery organization websites and 53 percent use general internet searches in their research making these the top two sources of information. Health plan websites are also being utilized more for this research as 52 percent of respondents turned to these sites in search of information, the release says.

Patients are looking at cost, convenience, and clinical expertise when choosing their healthcare provider with 94 percent of respondents saying that whether the provider accepts their insurance as extremely or very important. A further 87 percent said that clinical expertise was important, while 84 percent and 83 percent say that the hospital’s reputation and appointment availability, respectively, are important, according to the release.

Patients are also increasingly looking for online scheduling options, as 40 percent of respondents say they prefer to book appointments online, a 15 percent boost from the prior year. The phone is still the top way to schedule an appointment, but its popularity is waning falling 17 percent since 2017, the release says.

Despite the darkest days of the pandemic being over, patients are still delaying routine care with 45 percent of respondents saying they are hesitant to seek in-person care to some degree due to COVID-19. A further 25 percent say they will continue to delay routine care through the end of the year, according to the release.

“Five years of survey data has shown that the patient access journey increasingly spans multiple channels, with people relying heavily on both healthcare delivery organizations and health plans to navigate their care decisions,” Graham Gardner, MD, CEO of Kyruus, says in the release. “The findings highlight not only the need for these organizations to expand their own digital offerings, but also to collaborate to ensure patients encounter accurate and consistent information across these prominent access channels.”

This article was initially published by our sister publication Medical Economics.