Doctor's Office Experience Leaves Patients Frustrated

According to a Sequence survey, 61 percent of respondents would prefer a text alert before they leave home to let them know if they will not be seen by a health care provider on time.

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The average doctor’s appointment experience, from self-diagnosis to follow up, fails to meet today’s consumer standards for convenience, information and speed, according to a Sequence survey of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers.

In addition to identifying points of stress for patients, the survey uncovered a need for more technology-driven consumer experiences, with 88 percent of doctor’s appointments still scheduled by phone, subject to wait times and potential back-and-forth.

"Our survey found that there’s an opportunity for health care providers to improve the patient experience and reduce the peripheral stress associated with the basic doctor’s appointment," Jojo Roy, CEO of Sequence, told eWEEK. "For instance, 63 percent reported that their biggest stressor is waiting and all the uncertainty that it causes, and 85 percent wait between 10 and 30 minutes past their scheduled appointment time to see their health care provider."

Roy said one way to improve customer service is to communicate realistic expectations, especially regarding the wait.

According to consumers, 61 percent would prefer a text alert before they leave home to know that they will not be seen on time, and 55 percent wish they had access to estimated wait times through a screen in the waiting room to help manage their expectations.

Roy also noted health care is very private and personal, so consumers are less likely to share their experience on social media.

"I was most surprised to learn that consumers still rely on dated methods of navigating the doctor’s office visit, where there is potential for misinformation, miscommunication and added stress beyond the patient’s medical condition," Roy said. "Digital transformation has driven efficiency, convenience, data integrity, and even fun in other aspects of our lives, but somehow neither the health care industry nor consumer expectations about health care delivery have shifted much. That has to change."

Seventy percent of respondents said they spend time researching their condition online before contacting their health care provider, yet 54 percent do not write down symptoms or prescription drug regimens before going to their doctor’s appointment.

A third of respondents said they research their symptoms and health information through an online portal before going to the doctor’s appointment, and a third of Millennials said they would prefer to use a mobile pay solution to quickly determine out of pocket costs.

"I think we’ll see more electronic communication and capturing of medical information, more remote diagnosing—such as video chat--and yes, possibly more house calls," Roy said. "The overarching theme is matching the consumer needs for more on-demand, personalized experiences."