The decisions made by the public as "healthcare consumers" are becoming increasingly important, but relatively little is known about what guides their decision making process. This Harris Poll of 2,311 U.S. adults (ages 18 and over) surveyed online between July 16 and 23, 2012 by Harris Interactive represents an important first step in exploring this new category of market behavior.
Satisfaction with healthcare visits compared to other consumer services
Among the 84% of Americans who visited a doctor's office within the past year, nearly half (47%) reported being very satisfied with their last medical visit; an additional 36% described themselves as somewhat satisfied.
As might be expected, satisfaction falls short of levels observed for several other industries, particularly those with more of a focus on providing a pleasurable experience: very satisfied ratings are behind those reported for Americans' last restaurant visit (63%), their last online purchase (62%), and their last bank visit (59%). Very satisfied ratings are comparable to those recorded for U.S. adults' last hotel stay (49%), car purchase (47%) and department store visit (44%), and are ahead of those observed for their most recent health insurance company interaction (29%) and last mobile phone store visit (28%).
Dissatisfaction with most recent healthcare provider visits (17%) is comparable to levels observed for recent mobile phone store visits (also 17%) and health insurance company interactions (18%).Many factors contribute to patients' experiences with their doctors and other healthcare providers. When asked to rate a series of factors on their importance in driving a positive experience, the clear top issue in patients' minds is their doctor's overall knowledge, training and expertise (with 83% rating it very important). Their doctor's ability to access their overall medical history (62%) and time spent with their doctor (59%) are the next most vital factors, while appearance and atmosphere of the doctor's office (26%) and minimizing paperwork (29%) are the least important issues.
Gap for Online Services: Results show a similar disparity for all of the tested services, including (among others) email access to doctors (12% have; 23% very important, 30% important), online appointment setting (11% have, 21% very important, 30% important) and online billing and payments (10% have, 21% very important, 29% important).
"Customer experience matters in healthcare and will continue to impact purchasing decisions and customer retention," notes Debra Richman, Senior Vice President, Healthcare Business Development & Strategy, Harris Interactive. "The healthcare consumer is increasingly evaluating brand equity, convenience and product or service value as they make choices. In an increasingly competitive healthcare marketplace, a positive customer experience will serve to differentiate health plans and providers."
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