How Do Patients Decide Where to Get Care?

April 21, 2022

This article is included in these additional categories:

Customer Experience | Customer-Centric | Industries | Pharma & Healthcare

Fewer than half of patients in the US rate the quality of healthcare in the US as “very good” or “good,” according to the latest annual PX Pulse [download page] from The Beryl Institute and Ipsos. That’s down from the past couple of surveys and matches a 3-year low, per the results. Likewise, only 2 in 3 describe their overall care experience in the past year as “very good” or “good,” with this also matching a 3-year low.

That’s despite the experience being critically important to patients: fully 95% said that it’s “extremely” or “very” important for them to have a good experience as a patient, with the most common reasons given being that their health and wellbeing are important to them (69%) and that they want to know that their physical needs are being taken seriously (61%).

The Importance of Insurance

Results from the report emphasize the critical importance of insurance coverage to patients’ healthcare choices. In fact, when asked which healthcare issue is most important to them, the largest share of respondents cited having affordable insurance options. Though the share indicating this to be their top issue was down somewhat from previous years, cost is clearly at the forefront of patients’ minds, as the next-two largest issues were out-of-pocket healthcare costs and costs of health insurance premiums.

When broadening to top-3 issues, these remained atop the list. Insurance and costs are so important that these were cited by considerably more respondents than care factors such as access to quality hospitals, quality of care provided by hospitals, and quality of care for people with chronic conditions.

Interestingly, as the healthcare industry adapts to meet patients’ needs and desires for telehealth options, and as healthcare marketers have switched gears as a result of the pandemic, it turns out that insurance coverage is also crucially important in healthcare provider decisions. For healthcare marketers charged with patient acquisition, these results suggest some constraints in their ability to attract new patients, but also that for those representing providers with broad insurance acceptance, this factor should be emphasized.

When asked the top 3 elements most important to them when making decisions about where to receive their healthcare, a leading 48% of respondents pointed to insurance plan benefits/coverage. This was far and away the most important factor, trailed distantly by a group of others including cost (30%), reputation (30%), the ability to stay with the current doctor (29%), insurance network of doctors and hospitals (29%), availability or appointments (28%) and location (28%). Fewer still (17%) indicated that a doctor’s rating/ranking was a top-3 factor in their choice, despite research suggesting in the past that reviews are important in doctor selections.

Fewer than 4 in 10 (38% of) respondents to the Ipsos and Beryl Institute survey said they feel that they always have a choice in deciding where they receive care, although an additional 48% said they often have a choice. The most common reason impacting the extent to which they feel they have a choice when deciding where to receive care is insurance plan restriction (64%), the only factor cited by more than half of respondents.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey fielded in January and February 2022 among 1,011 people randomly selected to be representative of the US population.

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