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November 16, 2021

New survey reveals 3 out of every 5 consumers would bypass local health systems for care

Three out of every five consumers would opt to find healthcare either online, via an app, or at a clinic versus their traditional health system, according to a new survey commissioned by Bright.md. The survey, which polled nearly 1,200 consumers over the age of 18, sought to discover how healthcare preferences and expectations have shifted as a result of Covid, and just how much of a threat direct-to-consumer healthcare options are becoming.
As consumers seek more convenient care options often through mobile apps, health systems face heightened pressure to compete to both attract and retain their patients. Below, we highlight four key findings from our new consumer survey, Competition for care: How health systems can win consumer loyalty with better experiences.

  1. Competition for low-acuity patients is fierce. According to the survey, more than half of consumers said they’re interested in exploring convenience care options like direct-to-consumer companies and walk-in clinics. Forty-eight percent of respondents said that since March 2020, they’ve received care online, through an app, or by walk-in at a local clinic such as CVS, Rite-Aid, or Walmart, instead of going to their health system. Within that 48 percent, 54 percent confirmed they were seeking care for minor conditions like cuts and bruises, urinary tract infections, bronchitis, or a cold or seasonal flu.

    Additionally, three out of every five consumers said they’d first attempt to access care by going online, through an app, or by visiting a local clinic rather than contacting their local health system. This includes nearly three quarters of older millennials polled, as well as those between the ages of 30 to 45.

Takeaway: Health systems risk losing more patients with low-acuity conditions to these convenience care options unless they take action.

  1. Long wait-times are a major barrier to patient satisfaction and loyalty. Whether it’s a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks, consumers have become increasingly frustrated and impatient when it comes to waiting. Sixty-nine percent of survey respondents who tried to book an appointment with their health system needed to wait one day or longer to see a provider or specialist—just 31 percent said they received same-day care through their health system.

Takeaway: Patients want convenient care that’s quick and easy, and when it’s for a low-acuity condition, they expect same-day care.

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  1. Health systems must address gaps in patient experience to remain competitive. Why are health systems losing patients to these direct-to-consumer options? It’s simple—it’s a faster, easier experience. According to the survey, only 12 percent of consumers thought their health system offered a better, faster, more user-friendly experience than convenience care. Fifty-four percent thought a direct-to-consumer and walk-on clinic option was better, while 32 percent thought they were about the same. Lastly, just six percent of respondents who don’t have a chronic condition found their health system experience to be easier, faster, and more convenient.

Takeaway: Health systems need to improve primary and urgent care experiences to keep the “walking well” coming back to their system. This boosts continuity of care, while driving patient loyalty and capturing downstream revenue.

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  1. People seeking mental health treatment were more likely to have a negative experience with their health system. Patients looking for care for issues like anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental health symptoms have generally been less satisfied, according to the survey. Symptoms like these have also increased during the pandemic, while these patients also noted they’ve had to wait longer for care. Twenty-two percent of those who sought care for mental health through their health system said their health issue wasn’t addressed to their satisfaction, compared to 16 percent overall. Just one out of four respondents were able to speak to a provider the same day they attempted to book an appointment, while two out of every three consumers said they’d rather seek mental health care via direct-to-consumer options in the future, versus a traditional health system.

Takeaway: With staff shortages and gaps in access, health systems need to find ways to scale mental health care and improve patient experiences.

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