Causeway Solutions Outlooks and Insights: Volume 9, 05/22 - Instant Insights

Tim Duer

Healthcare, Healthcare Providers, Patient Analysis

May 1, 2022

Speed, Quality, or Caring: Seeking a Healthcare Provider

Decisions regarding choice of provider are not taken easily, and typically involve balanced considerations that incorporate many factors. For our April 2022 survey, 1500 online respondents across the country were asked to choose the most important factor in choosing a provider; between the 3 options of convenience (how close a provider is to home or work, how easy it is to make an appointment), quality & expertise (research done by provider, training and background, years of experience), and personal connection (bedside manner, compassion, seeing a consistent provider). Results show that when choosing a specialist (orthopedics, cardiology, neurology, etc.), respondents felt quality & expertise were substantially more important, with 64% indicating it as most important, followed by convenience in a distant second at 24%, and personal connection rounding it out at 12%. When we asked respondents about choosing a primary care provider (PCP), quality & expertise was still the most common response (42%), however, convenience (35%) and personal connection (23%) were much closer. Given the complexity and acuity that is often involved with seeking specialty care, it seems reasonable that expertise is a more impactful driver of choice, but the wider perspective on influence on PCP choice shows that respondents are very difference when it comes to preference.

Next, we looked at the 3 groups based on their top factor in choosing a PCP, and here differences in utilization and perceptions of the healthcare system become apparent. In most instances, the responses of the quality & expertise and convenience groups were similar and comparable to the respondent group. However, the convenience group did have some stand-out responses. It may not be surprising, given their preference for comfort, that the convenience group was the least likely of all the groups to report participating in 2 or more days of exercise per week – whereas the “personal connection” group was the most likely to be active. This convenience group was the most likely to indicate that they were very satisfied with their health insurance with 50% of these respondents having very positive feelings about their plan, as opposed to only 46% of the full survey group.

While the group that was most driven by personal connection represented the smallest of the 3 parties, their responses were the most unique. When questioned about their frequency of seeing a PCP over the past 12 months, this group was the most likely to have seen their PCP zero times (21% of the group as compared to just 17% of all respondents), however, they were also the most likely to visit 4 or more times. It may be that this group either feels that they have a close connection with their provider that is associated with a high frequency of care OR they are hoping to find a close connection.

Furthering this impression that those seeking a personal connection from their care providers struggle to find a bond in the current healthcare system, this group was the group most likely to view their local hospital first as a corporation rather than a healthcare provider. Only 29% of the total respondent group indicated this sentiment, versus 50% seeing the hospital as a healthcare provider first and 20% without opinion, while 31% of the personal connection group saw healthcare systems as a corporation first. On the other end, 60% of the quality & expertise group saw a healthcare system rather than a corporation, a greater portion of respondents than the other groups.

One of the most notable differentiators between the respondents in each group was based on sex. This differentiation makes it clear that men and women have different rationales in driving their provider choice, and stereotypes may ring true, as the group with the largest number of males was those choosing based upon convenience. On the other hand, females accounted for 71% of those that considered a personal connection to be the most important factor.

Another differentiator between the 3 groups was based on identified political party, but unlike so many other issues facing our country, those indicating either Democrat OR Republican were generally without much difference. Instead, it was the Independent group that was the most unique. More than 35% of both Republicans and Democrats indicated that convenience was the most important consideration, however, only 30% of Independents felt the same. These Independents were comparable to their bipartisan peers regarding the percentiles of those favoring quality & expertise, instead of shifting their more likely preference towards a personal connection. And so, while many members of this group may be more disenchanted in their search for a care provider that delivers a personal connection amongst hospitals that they perceive as corporations rather than health systems, they are also remaining open-minded to the preferred political candidates. My best wishes to these respondents as they seek to navigate the increasingly narrow passages of both the political and healthcare spaces simultaneously.

These results continue to support the importance of viewing consumers, whether they are health system patients or retail buyers, as individuals rather than demographics. Companies that are willing to take the step back to learn more about the motivators, behaviors, and ideologies of potential consumers can employ this knowledge by delivering messages at a level that appeals to the person, not just age group or gender. While there have been many that disagree with the concept of viewing patients as consumers, here is an instance where that approach not only provides benefits to the health system but also provides a patient with what they truly want – and that is certainly valuable for everyone.

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