Health

40% of patients in the US have switched doctors after clinic staff was rude to them

Survey reveals 65% of US patients would consider switching doctors if clinic staff was rude them: They also prefer to make appointments and pay bills online

  • Many patients in the U.S. will choose to change doctors for reasons that may be unrelated to the care itself, a new survey finds
  • Around 65% of patients find it important that clinic staff is friendly, while many also find timeliness of the physician to be very important
  • Being able to book appointments, check in and then pay bills online is also important to many patients 
  • On average, a patient will give a doctor up to four ‘mistakes’ before they choose to switch clinics 

Patients at the doctors office in the U.S. are considering a lot more than just medical care when internally judge their experience, a new survey finds. Many are also noting the kindness and timeliness of the staff, whether they can manage appointments online and other ancillary factors when they choose whether to return or find a new doctor.

A survey performed by OnePoll, a private polling service, found that 65 percent of patients consider how rude of friendly clinic staff is when choosing whether to switch physicians. Nearly 70 percent also said they prefer their doctor to be personable and engaged with them.

Use of more modern technology is important as well. Nearly half of patients said they prefect to see results of medical tests online, and 60 percent said they prefer to pay their medical bills online.

In general, the average patient seems to give a new doctor the leeway of up to three or four ‘mistakes’ before they consider switching to another clinic. The survey finds that many of these errors may be out of the doctors’ hands for the most part.

Patients in the U.S. value the timeliness and knowledge of their doctor most when choosing whether to stay or switch to a new physician. They also value some things that could be outside of the doctors control, like how friendly the staff is

‘The survey demonstrates that patients want to be able to easily schedule appointments and communicate with their provider before, during and after an appointment, a trend that was emerging before the pandemic, but which has sped up as a result,’ Daniel Cane, CEO of ModMed, who commissioned the study, said in a statement. 

‘Patients are increasingly interested in taking a more prominent role in managing their healthcare. 

‘From scheduling their own appointments to accessing medical records to making payments from their phone, the appetite for patient participation is growing.’ 

Researchers gathered data from 2,000 participants for the survey. A quarter of which did not have health care.

Each were asked how often they switched doctors, and what reason they would have to do so.

The most common reasons reported for patients seeing new doctors were usually things that were out of their control – with 40 percent pointing to a change in insurance and 35 percent saying they made a change because they moved to a new city.

More than a third, 35 percent, said that they had most recently changed for a doctor who was a ‘better fit’, though.

Many patients find it important to be able to book appointments, check-in and pay medical bills online (file photo)

Many patients find it important to be able to book appointments, check-in and pay medical bills online (file photo)

Many people seem to change doctors for other reasons. When asked, 79 percent of respondents said that the timeliness of their doctor was either a ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ important factor for them. 

On average, the survey found that patients would wait a maximum of 30 minutes in the waiting room, 85 minutes in the exam room waiting for the doctor at 40 minutes for post-appointment needs before they started to feel frustrated.

Another important factor was the perceived knowledge and thoroughness of the doctor as well – with 71 percent either finding it very or somewhat important.

Just over three-fourths, 77 percent, also said that the doctor being personable and engaged was important as to whether they chose to stay. 

Some of the factors are not directly related to the doctor themselves, though. 

Nearly two-thirds of patients said that the friendliness of the clinic staff was important to them. 

Being able to use online tools in health care is important to many patients as well.

More than 60 percent said that both being able to make appointments online and being able to pay bills online was important to them.

On average, patients will give a doctor four ‘errors’ before choosing to switch, the study found. 

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