New Healthcare Consumer Survey Shows Continued Rise in Demand for Digital Access and Catalytic Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Fourth Annual Survey From Kyruus Shows Growing Consumer Expectations for Healthcare Organizations to Expand Digital Self-Service Access to Both in-Person and Virtual Care Options
Kyruus announced findings from its fourth annual survey of 1,000 healthcare consumers exploring how they learn about, select, and schedule appointments with new providers. The findings, published in the 2020 Patient Access Journey Report, indicate that, while consumers continue to prioritize clinical- and insurance-related factors in provider selection, criteria related to ease and convenience of access are increasingly influential in their decisions. The survey results also suggest that, as care delivery sites and methods continue to expand, healthcare organizations have an opportunity to stand out by offering a connected and consumer-friendly experience across online and offline access channels.
For the fourth consecutive year, more than half of respondents reported going online at some point in their search for a new provider. Relatedly, independent research remained the top method for finding new primary care providers and the number two method for finding specialists across all four years. While consumers’ main selection criteria stayed consistent, the addition of virtual care-related questions in this year’s survey revealed its emergence as a notable new decision factor: over 40% of consumers rated whether a provider offers virtual visits extremely or very important. Consumers reported a similar influence from the ability to book online, which is now the scheduling preference for 43% of respondents, up from 25% in 2017.
Additional notable findings include:
- The majority of consumers continue to research providers online: Almost 60% of consumers consulted the internet in their search, with 57% of this group saying they conducted a general internet search. Health system websites continue to grow in importance with 45% of consumers who searched online visiting them, up from 38% in 2017. Payer websites ranked third at 40%.
- Insurance and clinical expertise remain consumers’ top two decision criteria, but speed of access is also key: 91% of respondents rated insurance accepted extremely or very important in provider selection, followed closely by clinical expertise (86%). Appointment availability rounded out the top three at 84%.
- Virtual care is an emerging factor in consumer decisions: In addition to two in five consumers rating virtual care access a highly important factor in provider selection, among those who used search engines, 19% said they searched using virtual-care related terms. Half of millennials and Gen Xers even said they would be highly likely to switch providers for the ability to have virtual visits.
- Consumer demand for online scheduling increased across generations: While the largest share of respondents still book by phone (48%), that share is declining and 43% now prefer to book online – a number that has risen each year of the survey. While that preference is strongest among millennials (63%) and Gen Xers (52%), it has risen among baby boomers too, now up to 22%.
- Most consumers do not plan to delay routine care in 2020: When asked if they’d seek routine care (e.g., annual check-ups and screenings) during the remainder of 2020, 64% of respondents said they would do so in-person and 42% said they would do so virtually.
“The trends we saw over the first three years of this survey pointed clearly to the rising need for healthcare organizations to empower consumers with both richer information about their care options and the ability to schedule in the way that works best for them,” said Dr. Graham Gardner, CEO of Kyruus. “The 2020 findings show that the pandemic has only accelerated consumer demand for easier access and organizations will need to evolve their offerings to capitalize on their ability to deliver a connected consumer access experience across channels.”
Kyruus conducted the survey of 1,000 consumers, spanning ages 18 to 65 or older, in partnership with Wakefield Research in August 2020. All respondents searched for a healthcare provider for themselves in the last two years and two-thirds of them did so within the prior six months (i.e., during the pandemic).