The majority of consumers consult the internet in the search for a new provider, yet most still prefer to schedule appointments by phone.

Consumers aren’t quite completely digital when it comes to finding a new doctor and booking an appointment—even though 59% of consumers begin the research process online.

A new survey of 1,000 consumers from Kyruus Inc., a Boston developer of physician location and appointment technology, finds that the majority of consumers consult the internet in the search for a new provider, yet most still prefer to schedule appointments by phone. In addition, consumers take a wide variety of factors into account when considering potential providers.

Today’s healthcare consumers have come to expect the same informative and action-oriented online experiences in healthcare that they find in other industries.

For example, Consumers consider “insurance accepted” the most important factor when selecting a provider, with 75% of respondents rating it as extremely important. The physician’s background and clinical expertise was the second key factor cited by 53% of survey takers.

Four of five consumers also cite appointment availability as a key factor when selecting a provider and over 60% of consumers have searched for an alternative provider to obtain an earlier appointment. In addition more than 40% of consumers say they trust online reviews “completely” or” ‘very much,” according to the survey.

Convenience is also a big driver for millennials looking for a doctor. 79% of millennials have continued their provider searches to look for an earlier appointment and two out of five prefer to book online, according to the Kyruus survey.

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“Today’s healthcare consumers have come to expect the same informative and action-oriented online experiences in healthcare that they find in other industries,” says Kyruus CEO Graham Gardner.

Other survey findings include:

  • 53% of consumers use a general web search to begin the process of finding a new doctor, while 34% use locater tools from a health insurance company and 32% rely on a referral from a family member or friend.
  • Whether that doctor takes their insurance is the top feature 61% of consumers want to find on a hospital or health insurer website, followed by 56% that want to search by healthcare provider specialty and view patient reviews and testimonials. Viewing healthcare provider scores online is the next most important feature, cited by 53% of consumers.
  • “Accepts my insurance” is again the most important criteria for 75% of consumers when actually selecting a new physician followed by clinical expertise in the patient’s condition, which 53% consider important, while 44% strongly consider appointment availability.
  • Millennials are far more trusting of patient ratings and reviews than Baby Boomers, as 28% of millennials say they trust them compared with just 7% of older consumers.
  • While only 25% of 1,000 respondents preferred booking online directly through the hospital or health system website, or through a third-party application or website, 40% of millennials prefer this method. For consumers who prefer booking online, convenience is the most important reason, cited by 69% of respondents.
  • Self-service capabilities and convenience are becoming increasingly important to healthcare consumers. 50% of respondents who prefer to book online say they would switch providers for the ability to do so. 63% of millennials and 64% of Generation X consumers who prefer to book online indicated they would switch providers for this convenience.

“Capturing their (consumers’) attention requires health systems to take a close look at their ‘digital front doors’ at both how consumers find their websites and what they experience once there,” Gardner says.

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