Convenience more important to patients than quality of care, survey finds

According to a recent study by NRC Health's 2019 Healthcare Consumer Trends Report, patients are looking for more than just good care. They also want ease, convenience and choice.

Of the 223,000 healthcare consumers surveyed, 51% said that convenience and access to care are the most important factors when it comes to making their decision. Insurance coverage (46%), doctor/nurse conduct (44%), brand reputation (40%) and quality of care (35%) followed.

Nearly one-third of patients have used retail clinics for primary care. A recent PwC Health Research Institute report also referenced how retail clinics' convenience make them an alternative to traditional providers.

"There's no reason to believe that these trends will slow down, as consumers continue to expect ever-more convenient access to care," NRC Health said.

The survey of patients found that they're largely satisfied with their providers. They also appreciate respect and communication from doctors and nurses.

Respondents also spoke negatively about wait times and dealings with non-clinical staff. About two-thirds said administrative and support staff didn't treat them with respect.

One-third of respondents complained about billing and insurance issues, which was observed to be the leading affect on a patients perspective of a practice.

In response to the findings, NRC Health offered five recommendations: prioritize human innovation and improve relationships, improve ease-of-use, cultivate continuous relationships rather than focusing on episodic care and return time to clinicians through reduced documentation and rebuilt EHR systems.

A recent Kaufman Hall survey of 200 hospitals and healthcare executives found that 90% of respondents said improving customer experience is a high priority - up from just 30% the year prior.

Few systems have actually done anything about it so far, though. A recent study from Chicago-based Prophet charged that consumerism for providers, payers and pharmaceutical companies is lacking.