Competence, convenience key to attracting new patients

patient satisfaction ratings
A new survey shines light on what patients value when choosing a healthcare provider.

When patients choose a physician, convenience and trust tend to be their top criteria, according to a new study.

A survey administered by Hanover Research on behalf of Weatherby Healthcare, a medical staffing company, took a look at patient preferences when they seek out providers. The Affordable Care Act boosted access for Medicaid patients, so it’s important for providers to align their practices with those patients’ interests, according to Bill Heller, president of Weatherby Healthcare.

“This study shows us that patients really care about simple, hassle-free access to healthcare and doctors who are available and kind,” he said in an announcement accompanying the study’s release.

Among the survey’s other key findings:

  • Online research continues to play a major role when patients look for new providers. The survey indicates patients tend to gravitate toward broad-based ratings rather than those tailored specifically to physician practices, so it pays to keep track of them and encourage patients to post reviews, even if doing so stresses out many physicians.
  • Cost and convenience matter. The top factors cited among patients as critical to their decision-making involved whether the practice was in-network for their insurance coverage, the out-of-pocket cost involved in using the practice and the location of the office.
  • Bedside manner and a positive attitude make physicians attractive to patients, according to the study, but competence is key. In the study, 84% of respondents rated their physician’s capabilities and medical knowledge as “extremely” or “very” influential in their choice.
  • When it comes to satisfaction with their current physician, the survey found a correspondence between patient age and satisfaction, with significantly more patients over the age of 55 satisfied with their physician than those between 18 and 34.
  • The biggest area for improvement involves patient wait times. The survey showed widespread patient dissatisfaction with the amount of time spent in exam rooms, waiting for a doctor or nurse to show up.