Combat the Trends and Get Patients the Care they Need
Research shows that regular check-ins with a primary care provider can lead to the early detection of major healthcare concerns. It can also keep chronic problems like diabetes, asthma, and congestive heart failure from turning into emergencies and costly hospital stays. And yet, nearly half of all Americans say they or someone they live with has delayed care since the onslaught of coronavirus, according to a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
While fears of COVID continue to be, not surprisingly, a major factor keeping patients from visiting their doctor, there are other concerns to be considered as well. A Zocdoc survey shows that Americans across the board—especially Millennials—are dropping out of healthcare. These stats may surprise you:
In this post, we’ll dig into what’s driving some of these trends, including logistical issues, cost concerns, and everyday life distractions. We’ll then consider how healthcare providers can create ways for patients to overcome these complications and get the care they need.
1. Cost concerns: As discussed in this New York Times article, Why People Are Still Avoiding the Doctor (It’s Not the Virus), as the pandemic has caused staggering unemployment, medical care has become unaffordable for many. Jennifer Taber, an assistant professor of psychology at Kent State University and lead author of a study called “Why Do People Avoid Medical Care?” cited that cost as the most common reason people avoid the doctor. Even when insured, you can still pay massive bills in the form of higher premiums, deductibles, and additional expenses.
What’s one solution? Encourage the more affordable routine check-ups that can catch issues on the front end before they become full-blown (and significantly more expensive) emergencies.
Increased marketing to your patient population may be more important than ever, as it can help to ensure patients understand that it’s safe (and important) for them to still get their wellness visits, annual checkups, and screenings. Micro-targeted marketing, similar to the strategy executed by Tanner Health System, will uncover the psychographic and demographic makeup of your market, provide block group level insights, and improve your marketing and outreach ROI.
When healthcare providers are more actively connecting with patients to ensure they are getting the routine, preventative care they need, patients will benefit in the end. Health issues will be diagnosed and treated before they become bigger problems and in the long run, their health-related expenses will be more manageable.
2. Transportation barriers: Health Outreach Partners found in its 2017 Rides to Wellness report that 25 percent of missed appointments in the U.S. are caused by transportation barriers. They found that in any given year, 3.6 million Americans miss at a minimum one medical appointment due to a lack of transportation.
A quick and immediate fix to this issue could be easily within reach—virtual care. As mentioned in a previous post, we witnessed a momentous spike in virtual care claims and encounters starting in March of 2020. These virtual care offerings are clearly meeting consumer expectations and the rapid adoption has shown that it is possible to make this kind of shift quickly. In all likelihood, this shift in care delivery is here to stay, as the public will expect this to be an ongoing option once concerns over the virus have subsided.
Survey data shows consumers like using telehealth services, both because they’re more convenient (65 percent) and help avoid COVID infection (63 percent)—and 51 percent say they would continue using them after the pandemic ends.
Gist Healthcare shared the following in their July 3, 2020 email: “We’re increasingly convinced that virtual physician visits are just one part of a continuum of care that can be delivered in the convenience and safety of the patient’s home.” Gist goes on to share a graphic that highlights the range of consumer-focused virtual care solutions. This graphic shows opportunities “from asynchronous chat interactions all the way to hospital care delivered at home.”
For the first time, many new opportunities for telehealth are available thanks to the reimbursement rate changes put into place last year. Medicare now reimburses for fee-for-service telehealth visits and CMS is covering nine new telehealth services. If your patient population has shown a keen interest in telehealth over the past year, then opening a robust, more efficient telehealth operation may be the right move.
3. Everyday life: No surprise, Americans are busy, and “everyday life” often trumps a needed doctor’s visit. According to this Zocdoc study, 61 percent said that health and wellness were more of a struggle to manage than personal finances, career goals, family obligations, and even pets’ health. Bottom line, most people are just too occupied with day-to-day obligations, and finding the right doctor, addressing a nagging ache or pain, and keeping their healthcare appointments don’t rank as a top priority.
So how can providers make healthcare more convenient for the busy American lifestyle? One answer is through thoughtful, well-researched site placements since six out of ten people choose a doctor based on a convenient location. Stratasan offers a number of tools aimed at improving your chances of getting site placements right the first time:
- Our one-of-a-kind traffic site selection resource, the Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT) Map. By conducting a traffic pattern analysis, this map will demonstrate traffic patterns, highlight access or visibility issues, and determine if traffic volume is well suited to support a new site placement.
- Site Location Analysis: By analyzing patient volumes, market share, demographics, traffic volumes, and growth opportunities, the Stratasan Spark Services team provides actionable insight on the ideal location options for new healthcare access points.
- Stratasan’s Spark Services: Offering a comprehensive suite of tools and analysis that will help you evaluate the demographics, traffic, and competition of a potential location in order to streamline the selection process.
Well-placed urgent and primary care clinics will lead to a more readily available healthcare experience for a greater number of people. It can also lead to growth for your hospital or health system. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Click-to-Tweet: Well-placed urgent and primary care clinics will lead to a more readily available healthcare experience for a greater number of people. It can also lead to growth for your hospital or health system. It’s a win-win for everyone. @stratasan http://bit.ly/2yzbJ0K
There is a multitude of reasons why people are not visiting the doctor as often as they should. Some of these issues, such as high insurance premiums, a fear of getting bad news, or the general hope that health issues will just resolve themselves, are hard for healthcare providers to address. But, as displayed by the examples above, there are instances when proactive measures are within the control of a physician's office and they can make a difference in how often their patients are checking in.
For more information on how Stratasan’s tools and services can assist with your growth planning efforts and site location analysis, schedule a discovery call today.
Article by Daniel Dreaden, Product Manager for Stratasan