Recently, Binary Fountain commissioned the OnePoll research organization to connect with more than a thousand adults who report having a physician. The purpose of the survey was to learn directly from healthcare consumers what things matter in their patient experience and to get a fresh look into their use of ratings and review sites.
The survey, entitled “Healthcare Consumer Insight & Digital Engagement,” yielded these two top-line findings:
- Healthcare consumers continue to count on online ratings and reviews when choosing a provider.
- Non-clinical aspects of the healthcare experience play an important role in the attitude of consumers toward their providers, and in their online reviews.
“Online ratings, reviews and social media need to be carefully monitored and evaluated by healthcare providers to remain competitive in today’s healthcare market,” says Aaron Clifford, Binary Fountain’s Senior VP of Marketing.
Online ratings matter – a lot
Online reviews and ratings have evolved and spread from restaurants, hotels and ecommerce purchases to a role of considerable importance in healthcare. In search for unfiltered opinion, today’s patients turn to online ratings and reviews as part of their process of researching and choosing a provider. These findings clearly illustrate the power of rating and review sites in today’s age of healthcare consumerism:
- 95 percent of respondents regard online ratings and reviews as “somewhat” to “very” reliable.
- 75 percent of Americans say online ratings and review sites have influenced their decision when choosing a physician.
- 30 percent of consumers share their own healthcare experiences via social media and online ratings and review sites.
Which rating sites rank highest?
What are the top sources respondents use to choose a physician? Thirty-four percent use Google; 17 percent HealthGrades; 13 percent Consumer Health Ratings and Rate MDs and 12 percent Yelp.
Millennials share their own healthcare experiences online
Among respondents aged 25-34, some 60 percent of respondents say they share their physician/hospital experiences via online platforms, including social media and online ratings and review sites. The survey reveals that respondents of all age groups prefer Facebook for sharing their healthcare experiences – except for 18-24 year-olds, who flock to Twitter.
Consumers expect “care” with their healthcare
In today’s experience economy, there is a direct connection between patient experience and reputation. According to the survey, the factor that matters most to patients when they rate or evaluate a physician is “a friendly and caring attitude.”
When responses are separated by gender, the most important factor to women is “a friendly and caring attitude,” while men believe “thoroughness of the examination” is the most important factor. The second most influential factor for all the patients surveyed is “thoroughness of the examination,” followed by “ability to answer all my questions.”
Aaron Clifford comments on the impact of these responses: “Industry research shows online ratings and reviews do not indicate the quality outcomes of the healthcare providers, however, they do provide insights on how the patient is experiencing various aspects of care.”
The main pain point is time
Asked what is the most frustrating issue about a visit to the doctor, survey respondents across the board mentioned “time:”
- All ages (except the 18-24 segment) answered “wait time” as the most frustrating thing about visiting the doctor.
- Millennials between the ages of 18-24 are three times more likely to be frustrated with “having to schedule an appointment” than any other age group.
In response to the question, “what is one thing you think your doctor could do better,” nearly half of those surveyed (48 percent) wrote time-related recommendations, including such suggestions as: reduced wait time, better scheduling of appointments, stop overbooking appointments, offer more availability and respond to patient calls faster. Twenty-seven percent of the respondents offered qualitative time-related recommendations: make time to be friendlier and more caring, spend more time listening to my concerns and answering my questions, and take the time to provide a better bedside manner. All of these dissatisfaction triggers relate to service delivery, rather than clinical outcome.
Overall, the survey reveals a great deal about the close relationship of patient experience to the quality of online reviews and the reputation of the provider.
As Aaron Clifford puts it, “Now more than ever before, healthcare providers need to play an active role in managing their online reputation in an effort to improve patient experience and increase patient retention.”
About the Author
George helps healthcare organizations better understand their healthcare consumer challenges and needs, in order to efficiently manage and improve patient satisfaction.