Satisfaction with Doctor Visits on the Rise

Patients continue to show a strong desire to communicate online with health care providers, even as access is rising

05:00 AM EST Jan 20, 2016 Rating
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Satisfaction with Doctor Visits on the Rise

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Doctors’ visits aren’t typically a favorite activity for most, but their importance is unquestionable. As health care models continue to morph, the marketplace is continually changing. Patients now have more choices than ever as to where and how they interact with their health care providers, so satisfaction is an increasingly important measure. Among those who have visited a doctor’s office in the past year (“patients”), 88% (up 5 points from 2012) report they are satisfied with their last visit; notably, over half (53%) state they are very satisfied.

Satisfaction appears to rise with age, as very satisfied ratings increase from 47% among Millennials (age 18-35) to 69% among Matures (ages 70+). From an ethnicity perspective, Whites and Blacks are significantly more likely than Hispanics and Asians to say they are very satisfied with their last health care experience (54% & 57% vs. 43% & 39%, respectively).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,368 general population U.S. adults, along with representative oversamples of 511 Hispanic Americans (interviewed in English and Spanish) and 179 Asian Americans (interviewed in English), surveyed online between September 9 and 17, 2015.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Americans identify several other experiences where they’ve had higher levels of satisfaction:

Elements of satisfaction

Many factors can contribute to a positive experience at a doctor’s office, with the doctor’s overall knowledge, training, and expertise topping the list – 83% say this is very important. Majorities also rate the doctor’s ability to access overall medical history (65%) and time spent with the doctor (58%) very important, and many say the same for several aspects of communication: ease of making an appointment (49%), efficient and simple billing process (45%) and ability to communicate with the doctor outside of an appointment, either by phone or email (44%).

One of the often-dreaded aspects of visiting the doctor – the time spent waiting – is a very important factor for 43% of patients to ensure a positive experience. The least important aspects are convenience of the doctor’s office location (40%), minimized paperwork (32%) and appearance and atmosphere of the doctor’s office (31%).

Access to online services increases, but not enough

Doctors’ offices are clearly enhancing patients’ opportunities to interact with the offices online. Since 2012, the number of patients who say their doctor offers a particular online communication service has increased across the board. Most notably, one quarter (25%, up from 17% in 2012) of patients now indicate they have online access to their medical record, including doctor visits, prescriptions, test results and history. Email access to doctors has grown as well, from just 12% of patients indicating they had access in 2012 to one in five (19%) today.

But while access is moving in the right direction, there are still far more patients awaiting these enhancements. Six in ten patients (59%) say they don’t have online access to their medical records but rate it important, and roughly half say the same about being able to reach their doctor via email.

This holds true for other tested services as well, including:

The largest gap between access and perceived importance is for an online cost estimator that provides average costs for specific services, which is available to less than one in ten (7%) patients but important to over six in ten (62%).

Retail for some, not all

When asked about their likelihood to use a retail health care provider – like a drug store, urgent care facility or walk-in clinic – for various ailments, Americans’ interest depends on the medical need.

On the other hand, majorities of Americans are unlikely to turn to these types of providers for a regular checkup for a chronic condition (67%), for a wellness visit (60%), to get an x-ray (59%), or to treat a flare-up of asthma or high blood sugar (55%). Likelihood levels, or lack thereof, have stayed largely consistent since 2012.

That’s not to say all Americans feel the same way. With the exception of getting a flu shot, majorities of Matures (those ages 70+) are unlikely to use a retail health care provider for any ailment. 

 

 

TABLE 1

HEALTH CARE PROVIDER VISITS IN PAST YEAR - TREND

“How many times in the past year did you visit a health care provider, such as a doctor (general practitioner or specialist), a nurse practitioner, a physician assistant, etc.?  If you are not sure, please provide your best estimate.”

Base: All adults

 

Total

2012

Total

2015

%

%

No visits

16

12

One or more visits

84

88

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 2a

CUSTOMER SATISFACTION WITH NINE EXPERIENCES - TREND

 “Now thinking about customer satisfaction in general, how satisfied were you with the following?”

*“Thinking of your most recent visit to a health care provider, how satisfied were you with the overall experience?”

Base: All adults [*Seen health care provider at least once in the past year]

 

Satisfied [NET]

Dissatisfied [NET]

 

2012

2015

2012

2015

%

%

%

%

Your last visit to a restaurant

90

91

6

6

Your last online purchase

84

89

6

4

Your last visit to a department store

86

88

9

6

*Most recent visit to a health care provider

83

88

17

12

Your last visit to a bank

85

87

8

6

Your last stay at a hotel

78

78

6

7

Your last car purchase

72

76

10

8

Your last interaction with your health insurance company

61

63

18

17

Your last visit to a mobile phone store

59

59

17

17

 


 

TABLE 2b

CUSTOMER SATISFACTION WITH NINE EXPERIENCES

Grid Summary

“Now thinking about customer satisfaction in general, how satisfied were you with the following?”

*“Thinking of your most recent visit to a health care provider, how satisfied were you with the overall experience?”

Base: All adults [*Seen health care provider at least once in the past year]

 

Satisfied [NET]

Very

Satisfied

Somewhat

Satisfied

Dissatisfied [NET]

Somewhat

Dissatisfied

Very Dissatisfied

Not

Applicable

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Your last visit to a restaurant

91

65

26

6

4

2

3

Your last online purchase

89

71

19

4

2

2

7

Your last visit to a department store

88

46

42

6

4

2

6

*Most recent visit to a health care provider

88

53

35

12

7

6

-

Your last visit to a bank

87

61

27

6

4

2

7

Your last stay at a hotel

78

52

26

7

4

2

15

Your last car purchase

76

50

26

8

5

3

16

Your last interaction with your health insurance company

63

31

32

17

10

6

20

Your last visit to a mobile phone store

59

28

31

17

11

6

24

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding


 

TABLE 3

SATISFACTION WITH MOST RECENT MEDICAL VISIT – BY GENERATION AND EDUCATION

“Thinking of your most recent visit to a health care provider, how satisfied were you with the overall experience?”

Base: Seen health care provider at least once in the past year

 

2012 Total

2015 Total

Generation

Ethnicity

Millennials

(18-35)

Gen X

(36-50)

Baby Boomers

(51-69)

Matures

(70+)

White

Black

Hispanic

Asian

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Very Satisfied

47

53

47

46

56

69

54

57

43

39

Somewhat Satisfied

36

35

37

42

34

21

34

35

33

47

Somewhat Dissatisfied

11

7

9

7

6

2

6

4

12

11

Very Dissatisfied

7

6

8

4

5

7

6

5

13

3

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 4a

IMPORTANT FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO POSITIVE EXPERIENCE WITH HEALTH CARE PROVIDER – TREND

Summary of “Very Important”

“Thinking generally of all the health care visits you have made in the past year, how important are each of the following to ensuring you have a positive overall experience when you visit a health care provider in the future?”

Base: Seen health care provider at least once in the past year

 

Very Important

2012

2015

%

%

The doctor’s overall knowledge, training and expertise

83

83

The doctor’s ability to access your overall medical history

62

65

Time spent with the doctor

59

58

Ease of making an appointment

42

49

Efficient and simple billing process

38

45

Ability to communicate with the doctor outside of an appointment, either by phone or email

43

44

Time spent in the waiting room

40

43

Convenience of the doctor’s office location

37

40

Minimized paperwork

29

32

Appearance and atmosphere of the doctor’s office

26

31


 

TABLE 4b

IMPORTANT FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO POSITIVE EXPERIENCE WITH HEALTH CARE PROVIDER

Grid Summary

“Thinking generally of all the health care visits you have made in the past year, how important are each of the following to ensuring you have a positive overall experience when you visit a health care provider in the future?”

Base: Seen health care provider at least once in the past year

 

Very Important

Important

Not that Important

Not at all Important

%

%

%

%

The doctor’s overall knowledge, training and expertise

83

15

*

1

The doctor’s ability to access your overall medical history

65

31

3

1

Time spent with the doctor

58

38

3

1

Ease of making an appointment

49

47

3

*

Efficient and simple billing process

45

45

7

2

Ability to communicate with the doctor outside of an appointment, either by phone or email

44

43

11

2

Time spent in the waiting room

43

41

14

1

Convenience of the doctor’s office location

40

49

10

1

Minimized paperwork

32

46

19

3

Appearance and atmosphere of the doctor’s office

31

49

17

3

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding 

 

TABLE 4c

IMPORTANT FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO POSITIVE EXPERIENCE WITH HEALTH CARE PROVIDER

Summary of “Very Important”

By Generation and Ethnicity

 “Thinking generally of all the health care visits you have made in the past year, how important are each of the following to ensuring you have a positive overall experience when you visit a health care provider in the future?”

Base: Seen health care provider at least once in the past year

 

Total

Generation

Ethnicity

Millennials

(18-35)

Gen X

(36-50)

Baby Boomers

(51-69)

Matures

(70+)

White

Black

Hispanic

Asian

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

The doctor’s overall knowledge, training and expertise

83

79

85

85

88

85

84

79

66

The doctor’s ability to access your overall medical history

65

58

66

69

75

66

71

63

52

Time spent with the doctor

58

51

57

63

66

61

56

61

50

Ease of making an appointment

49

50

56

45

43

46

59

57

34

Efficient and simple billing process

45

50

47

42

40

42

50

47

36

Ability to communicate with the doctor outside of an appointment, either by phone or email

44

43

46

44

38

41

60

50

30

Time spent in the waiting room

43

45

50

41

34

41

54

46

35

Convenience of the doctor’s office location

40

41

45

36

37

38

46

51

36

Minimized paperwork

32

32

36

29

32

31

40

42

29

Appearance and atmosphere of the doctor’s office

31

38

35

25

24

27

47

49

23 


 

TABLE 5a

TECHNOLOGIES THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO HEALTH CARE CONSUMERS – TREND

Summary “Very Important”

“Thinking now of new technologies your health care provider could implement, how important would each of the following be to you?”

Base: Seen a health care provider at least once in the past year

 

Very Important

My doctor already does this

2012

2015

2012

2015

%

%

%

%

Online medical record access to your doctor visits, prescriptions, test results and history

32

29

17 

25

Online cost estimator which provides average costs for specific services

26

27

6 

7

Proactive communications from your doctor to schedule preventative care appointments via email or text

23

26

12 

16

Online appointment setting

21

24

11 

17

Email access to your doctor

23

23

12 

19

Online billing and payments

21

21

10 

15

 

TABLE 5b

TECHNOLOGIES THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO HEALTH CARE CONSUMERS

Grid Summary

 “Thinking now of new technologies your health care provider could implement, how important would each of the following be to you?”

Base: Seen a health care provider at least once in the past year

 

Important [NET]

Very

Important

Important

Not Important [NET]

Not that Important

Not at all

Important

My doctor already does this

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Online cost estimator which provides average costs for specific services

62

27

35

32

23

9

7

Online medical record access to your doctor visits, prescriptions, test results and history

59

29

30

15

10

6

25

Proactive communications from your doctor to schedule preventative care appointments via email or text

59

26

33

25

18

7

16

Online appointment setting

52

24

28

31

22

9

17

Email access to your doctor

51

23

28

30

21

8

19

Online billing and payments

50

21

29

35

25

10

15

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

TABLE 5c

TECHNOLOGIES THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO HEALTH CARE CONSUMERS

Summary of “Important (NET)”

By Generation and Ethnicity

 “Thinking now of new technologies your health care provider could implement, how important would each of the following be to you?”

Base: Seen a health care provider at least once in the past year

 

Total

Generation

Ethnicity

Millennials

(18-35)

Gen X

(36-50)

Baby Boomers

(51-69)

Matures

(70+)

White

Black

Hispanic

Asian

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Online cost estimator which provides average costs for specific services

62

68

67

59

46

60

72

78

71

Online medical record access to your doctor visits, prescriptions, test results and history

59

64

57

60

52

58

58

73

73

Proactive communications from your doctor to schedule preventative care appointments via email or text

59

65

65

52

50

57

65

66

66

Online appointment setting

52

62

63

40

38

50

56

70

65

Email access to your doctor

51

57

54

48

40

51

52

64

66

Online billing and payments

50

60

58

42

34

49

54

73

70

 


TABLE 6a

LIKELIHOOD OF GOING TO A RETAIL CLINIC FOR CERTAIN SERVICES – TREND

Summary of “Likely (NET)” and “Unlikely (NET)”

“New options for healthcare services are starting to be available in shopping environments (such as drug stores like CVS or Walgreens, and large big-box stores like Walmart) and we are seeing more types of urgent care centers and walk-in medical clinics not affiliated with a particular doctor or medical group. In general, if you had to treat one of the following ailments, how likely would you be to go to one of these places instead of your regular doctor?”

Base: All adults

 

Likely [NET]

Unlikely [NET]

 

2012

2015

2012

2015

%

%

%

%

To get a flu-shot

65

62

31

32

You have a cold or flu-like symptoms

53

54

41

41

You have a cut or puncture wound

49

49

46

45

You have a rash

47

49

48

45

You need a checkup for high cholesterol or high blood pressure

47

46

48

48

For screening or lab services, such as blood sugar testing

47

46

48

49

You have an injured arm or foot (possible break or sprain)

39

37

56

57

You are having a flare-up of asthma or can’t get your blood sugar down

36

37

57

55

For a wellness visit, regular checkup or preventative services

33

36

62

60

To get an x-ray

36

35

59

59

You need a regular checkup for a chronic condition (such as diabetes or asthma)

27

28

67

67


 

TABLE 6b

LIKELIHOOD OF GOING TO A RETAIL CLINIC FOR CERTAIN SERVICES

“New options for healthcare services are starting to be available in shopping environments (such as drug stores like CVS or Walgreens, and large big-box stores like Walmart) and we are seeing more types of urgent care centers and walk-in medical clinics not affiliated with a particular doctor or medical group. In general, if you had to treat one of the following ailments, how likely would you be to go to one of these places instead of your regular doctor?”

Base: All adults

 

Likely [NET]

Very

Likely

Somewhat

Likely

Unlikely [NET]

Somewhat Unlikely

Very Unlikely

Not at all sure

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

To get a flu-shot

62

40

23

32

9

23

6

You have a cold or flu-like symptoms

54

26

28

41

16

25

5

You have a cut or puncture wound

49

24

25

45

16

29

5

You have a rash

49

23

26

45

16

29

6

You need a checkup for high cholesterol or high blood pressure

46

21

25

48

16

32

6

For screening or lab services, such as blood sugar testing

46

24

22

49

16

33

5

You have an injured arm or foot (possible break or sprain)

37

18

19

57

18

39

5

You are having a flare-up of asthma or can’t get your blood sugar down

37

18

19

55

18

37

8

For a wellness visit, regular checkup or preventative services

 

36

18

18

60

20

40

4

To get an x-ray

35

17

18

59

17

42

6

You need a regular check up for a chronic condition (such as diabetes or asthma)

28

13

15

67

21

46

5

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 


TABLE 6c

LIKELIHOOD OF GOING TO A RETAIL CLINIC FOR CERTAIN SERVICES

Summary of “Likely (NET)”

By Generation and Ethnicity

“New options for healthcare services are starting to be available in shopping environments (such as drug stores like CVS or Walgreens, and large big-box stores like Walmart) and we are seeing more types of urgent care centers and walk-in medical clinics not affiliated with a particular doctor or medical group. In general, if you had to treat one of the following ailments, how likely would you be to go to one of these places instead of your regular doctor?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Ethnicity

Millennials

(18-35)

Gen X

(36-50)

Baby Boomers

(51-69)

Matures

(70+)

White

Black

Hispanic

Asian

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

To get a flu-shot

62

64

61

60

70

64

61

72

53

You have a cold or flu-like symptoms

54

61

59

46

47

53

61

66

41

You have a cut or puncture wound

49

52

46

50

47

50

55

62

45

You have a rash

49

57

48

46

40

51

47

64

38

You need a checkup for high cholesterol or high blood pressure

46

51

45

46

37

46

53

62

42

For screening or lab services, such as blood sugar testing

46

48

50

43

38

46

50

58

43

You have an injured arm or foot (possible break or sprain)

37

39

38

37

30

37

44

53

38

You are having a flare-up of asthma or can’t get your blood sugar down

37

43

40

34

24

35

46

54

37

For a wellness visit, regular checkup or preventative services

36

49

35

30

21

34

43

61

29

To get an x-ray

35

39

36

34

27

34

41

54

35

You need a regular check up for a chronic condition (such as diabetes or asthma)

28

38

29

24

13

26

38

44

29

 


 

TABLE 6d

LIKELIHOOD OF GOING TO A RETAIL CLINIC FOR CERTAIN SERVICES

Summary of “Not Likely (NET)”

By Generation

“New options for healthcare services are starting to be available in shopping environments (such as drug stores like CVS or Walgreens, and large big-box stores like Walmart) and we are seeing more types of urgent care centers and walk-in medical clinics not affiliated with a particular doctor or medical group. In general, if you had to treat one of the following ailments, how likely would you be to go to one of these places instead of your regular doctor?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Millennials

(18-35)

Gen X

(36-50)

Baby Boomers

(51-69)

Matures

(70+)

%

%

%

%

%

You need a regular check up for a chronic condition (such as diabetes or asthma)

67

58

65

71

83

For a wellness visit, regular checkup or preventative services

60

48

59

66

77

To get an x-ray

59

56

56

60

71

You have an injured arm or foot (possible break or sprain)

57

57

54

57

68

You are having a flare-up of asthma or can’t get your blood sugar down

55

50

51

57

71

For screening or lab services, such as blood sugar testing

49

46

43

52

60

You need a checkup for high cholesterol or high blood pressure

48

42

48

48

61

You have a cut or puncture wound

45

38

45

49

57

You have a rash

45

43

47

44

51

You have a cold or flu-like symptoms

41

35

35

47

51

To get a flu-shot

32

31

31

35

27

 


 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between September 9 and 17, 2015 among 2,368 adults (aged 18 and over). Additionally, oversamples were collected in English and Spanish among 511 Hispanic (representing Spanish-dominant, English-dominant and Bilingual profiles) respondents and in English among 179 Asian respondents. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #4, January 20, 2016

By Allyssa Birth, Senior Research Analyst, The Harris Poll

About The Harris Poll®

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. 

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