Proving that consumers can still surprise us, Advisory Board compared the results of their 2019 consumer preference survey with the 2014 survey results. Here are the unexpected answers to the question, "What do consumers want from primary care?"

What's new in 2019?

A jump in the importance of physicians. Consumers would rather see a physician. Although most patients are still willing to be seen by a nurse practitioner, physician assistant or pharmacist - doctors rule.

The importance of immediate access has increased. Consumers in need of urgent care would love to walk into a care facility without an appointment, even if they have to wait 30 minutes to an hour. Also high on their list of preferences:

  • Same day appointments
  • Access to a clinic that's open 24/7

Increased use of alternative sites for primary care. One in five patients uses an alternative walk-site as their main source of primary care. Expect this trend to grow among the younger generation.

  • 51% of respondents aged 18-29 say they go to urgent care centers for primary care, as well as retail clinics, virtual visit platforms and concierge care practices.
  • For older/traditional primary care patients 65+, almost one third chose to go elsewhere.

Consumers haven't fully embraced wearables, biometric scans and genetic tests. Despite the hype, consumers would rather have improved care coordination and ease of access.

Popular name-brands don't impress. Hospital brands beat the likes of Apple and Amazon - for now. Very few respondents displayed an interest in using a clinic affiliated with either.

No need for a one-stop-shop. When choosing a new primary care office, consumers want lab tests and x-rays, but they're willing to go elsewhere for:

  • Prescriptions
  • Ophthalmology
  • Nutrition/weight loss
  • Mental health/substance abuse support

Less loyalty. As brand loyalty declines across all industries, it's not surprising that primary care patients are less loyal than they were five years ago. The 65+ population is the most loyal; the youngest respondents were the least.

What hasn't changed since 2014?

Still not important: Digital differentiators. Despite the growing prevalence of telehealth, virtual visits remain a low priority. But some digital services are popular, including:

  • Online access to lab test results
  • Online scheduling

The acceptance of retail clinics stays the same. However, urgent care centers have increased in acceptance, especially for ailments like fever, sore throat, rash and minor sprains.

Up-front, low prices are still just tiebreakers. Surprising, because deductibles and cost sharing have increased. However, low prices and price transparency remain mid-level priorities for consumers seeking basic urgent care in 2019.

Keep up with consumer change

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