Today in the chart

Survey Breaks Down Patients’ Biggest ‘Pain Points’ When Seeking Care

Waiting rooms versus waiting times may play a big role in deterring people from seeking health care.

Long wait times at primary care offices and walk-in clinics deter many people from seeking healthcare, especially younger generations. But new research adds that another negative experience may play an even more significant role.

Waiting Rooms vs. Wait Times

According to research from software company Qualtrics, titled the Healthcare Pain Index, “unpleasant waiting rooms” are the most common pain point among participants who answered survey questions while visiting one of three types of facilities: primary care, urgent care, or emergency departments. Researchers said the patients involved represent a global audience over 18 years old.

Almost one-third, 29%, of urgent and primary care participants said “unpleasant waiting rooms” were the main reason they would not return to a given facility, along with 20% of ED visitors. Long wait times came in second, with 11% of urgent care and ED patients and 6% of primary care patients.

“Many people experience very long wait times, [but] that isn’t why people say they would switch between specific facilities,” researchers noted. “Whether this is due to patients having very low expectations, few alternatives, or are just genuinely not bothered by waiting remains unclear.”

The survey also found that satisfaction with the waiting room strongly predicted patient satisfaction overall. Patients at the emergency department, primary care, and urgent care who disliked the waiting room were nine times, five times, and four times more likely (respectively) to be dissatisfied overall.

What About Cost Transparency?

Other interesting findings address how patients feel about interacting with more than one provider, cost transparency, virtual care, and online health information:

  • Urgent care patients who work with more than two medical personnel are 1.8 times more likely to be dissatisfied with their overall experience.
  • Higher than expected costs is the number one reason people don’t return to a specific emergency room. This ranks much lower for primary and urgent care.
  • Overall, patients preferred in-person to virtual care, but the difference between the two in the US, 15%, is smaller than in the rest of the world.
  • One in ten ER and urgent care patients said they’d follow something they read online even if it contradicted their provider’s guidance.

NPs and PAs Take Note

For advanced practice providers, another aspect of the survey will stand out. Almost half of the patients, 44%, said they trust their APPs equally to physicians. Some 16% said they trust APPs more, and 40% felt that way about physicians.

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