Today, over 65 percent of consumers use online search engines to find a new healthcare provider, according to a December Press Ganey research report.1
For its Consumer Experience Trends in Healthcare 2021 report, Press Ganey surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. adults to get an understanding of the state of consumer preferences and expectations for healthcare.1
The report found that online search dominates the start of the patient healthcare journey, with 51.1 percent of consumers turning to the web when choosing a new primary care provider.1 WebMD was the top health information website used by consumers to research providers.
Digital Experience is the Key Driver
The pandemic has created a new era in healthcare. Today, online perception is reality, and failure to invest in digital channels will drive patients to look for care elsewhere.2
According to Press Ganey’s Report, the digital experience is the key driver of growth and patient retention. The publication includes key drivers behind current healthcare consumer behaviors and strategies for healthcare leaders to strengthen their digital footprint in 2022 and beyond.2
Delivering a five-star experience is imperative as Press Ganey found online reviews are the most important factor in a patient’s decision to book an appointment with a provider. The findings show that online reviews prevent referral leakage: 83% of patients go online to read reviews about a provider after they receive a referral. And 84% would not see their preferred provider if they had less than a four-star rating.2
But beyond reviews, patient acquisition and loyalty are increasingly dependent upon the entire healthcare digital experience, throughout every touchpoint along the patient journey.2
Other important findings from the analysis include:
- All generations are increasingly shopping online for healthcare. 44% of baby boomers and 60% of millennials and Gen Z prefer researching healthcare providers on their smartphone or tablet, representing a 27% and 13% increase from 2019, respectively.2
- Digital drives patient choice. In fact, they rely on digital resources more than twice as much as provider referrals when choosing a healthcare provider. On average, consumers use three different websites during their healthcare research process and five reviews before making a decision.2
- Customer service is the new bedside manner. Assuming quality care is received, patients rate “customer service” (71%) and “communication” (64%) as more important than even “bedside manner” when it comes to rating a five-star experience.2
- Telehealth isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. More than one-third of patients have used telehealth in the past year—a 38% increase since 2019—and usage surged among baby boomers during the same period.2
Today’s consumers expect industries and brands to deliver the online convenience that matches their digital lifestyle. Healthcare is no different. Organizations must continually evaluate their digital experience to successfully acquire and retain patients.2 It’s the kind of digital-first mindset WebMD was founded upon—and why we’re the top health information site consumers turn to.
1 Top 5 websites consumers use to find providers. Becker's Hospital Review. https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/digital-marketing/top-5-websites-consumers-use-to-find-providers.html. Published Monday, December 13th, 2021. Accessed December 16, 2021.
2 The Digital Experience is the Key Driver of Growth and Patient Retention, According to Press Ganey’s 2021 Consumer Report. Website. https://www.pressganey.com/about-us/news/consumer-report. Published December 01, 2021. Accessed December 16, 2021.