2023 Voice of the Patient Survey aims to help healthcare providers understand gaps, progress and opportunities across the full patient journey
Two out of three U.S. patients would be somewhat or very likely to switch healthcare providers if they experienced poor communication during the pre-care process. That’s according to a new research study from RevSpring, a provider of healthcare engagement and payment solutions, to understand how patient experience drives loyalty, trust and financial outcomes.
The 2023 Voice of the Patient Survey, with 1,000 U.S. patients, revealed communications preferences cut across demographics, suggesting a one-size-fits-all engagement approach based on general data will leave some patients unsatisfied. However, patients want their preferences followed—87% reported it’s at least somewhat important their providers follow their preferred communication channels with more than half saying it’s very important. Not honoring these preferences can erode trust as four out of five respondents agreed they would be more likely to trust their providers if they communicate with them using their preferred choices.
“We’ve conducted patient experience surveys every few years since 2016 and it’s clear patients have higher standards now, especially when it comes to personalization,” said Kristen Jacobsen, VP of marketing and OmniChannel engagement. “The challenge and opportunity for the industry today is fulfilling those high expectations. With combined intelligence, such as demographic and behavioral data, providers can understand patients at scale, not only meeting their preferences to build trust and loyalty but also driving desired actions.”
In conducting this research, RevSpring uncovered five key observations about the entire patient journey, from pre-service to payment:
1. Personalization based on preferences is the gold standard of healthcare engagement. Demographics point to general communication patterns, but patients have their own preferences and want their healthcare providers to treat them as individuals.
2. Patients will switch providers due to a bad experience. The majority of respondents reported they would be at least somewhat likely to switch because of poor communication during the pre-care experience (67%) and poor billing experiences (56%). Nearly two-thirds (66%) of the youngest respondents found a new healthcare provider in the past year while only 46% of respondents ages 65+ did, suggesting older patients tend to be more loyal.
3. There are gaps in what patients expect and what they experience—and provider education can help bridge these divides. In terms of common healthcare interactions, patients were least satisfied with completing paperwork and forms (73%) and the check-in process (57%). Top reasons for being dissatisfied were the inability to find information (32%), uncertainty about whom to call with questions (29%) and a lack of self-service options (23%). However, these complaints may be exacerbated by a lack of awareness about offerings, meaning providers can close these gaps by ensuring patients are aware of all their services.
4. Empathy is critical in inspiring patients to engage and act. Empathy, informed by data, analytics, and feedback, must drive the patient experience to ensure the experience will align with their specific needs. In fact, more than 70% of respondents agreed that they would pay sooner when presented with the option that best fit their ability to pay. Selecting communication channels is another area where providers should be empathetic. Surprisingly, print communications was one of the top two preferred methods for nearly all types of healthcare communications among all patients and was No. 1 for bills and statements. Providers might be eager to shift to digital, but they must empathize with patients who prefer print.
5. Progress has been made, but there is still room for improvement. In relation to RevSpring’s 2016 and 2019 surveys, it is encouraging to see that communication clarity is improving and that the digital gap is closing. Even so, there is more to be done as some consumers are still confused or frustrated with their healthcare experiences.
The study, conducted by research firm Keypoint Intelligence, included a quantitative web survey of 1,000 patients in the United States who were between 18-75 years old, had visited a doctor at least once in the past year, were responsible for paying their own medical bills, and had paid a healthcare bill in the past six months. The responses were balanced by U.S. Census data to be demographically representative.
To read more of the research findings, including recommendations for healthcare providers, download the white paper, 2023 Voice of the Patient Survey.