Doctor uses convenient technology to communicate with patients.

How COVID-19 Affected Patient Expectations

Est. Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Key Insights

  • According to a new study, patients expect more personalized communication because of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Seventeen percent of patients have considered changing to a new doctor based on how they handled the COVID-19 pandemic
  • This study reveals pitfalls in healthcare’s patient communication systems and reveals potential areas of improvement

Background

COVID-19 misinformation is as widespread as the virus itself. Studies show that, along with misinformation, “the lack of reliable and trustworthy communication” about the virus had a detrimental effect on patients’ trust in their providers and the healthcare system.

Reports show that only 49 percent of Americans received “general information” about COVID-19 from their physicians, and just over 35 percent of Americans reported receiving information about the vaccine from their doctors. Because of this gap in communication, 41 percent of patients lost confidence in their physicians, and 20 percent considered switching to a new provider because of it.

Patient Expectations Have Shifted

A study measuring patients’ post-COVID perceptions of their physicians reveals they are “prioritizing communication and re-examining relationships with their doctors” depending on how they handled the pandemic.

The study suggests that, in the future, 50 percent of patients will expect physicians to provide highly personalized, actionable communication regularly. Those patients who stated their confidence in their physicians increased during the COVID-19 pandemic cited frequent updates that guided them “on how to prevent COVID-19 infection as a main reason for their increased confidence.”

As for the healthcare sector, more than half of patients expect digital appointment scheduling, proactive communication, and the ability to have virtual appointments from their healthcare providers. In fact, 63 percent of patients who have considered switching to another doctor say that “they will consider whether potential providers use digital communication tools before choosing a new doctor.”

Tips for Providers

Studies show that patients of all ages prefer proactive communication from their providers, but those aged 45 to 54 prefer it slightly more than all other age demographics. Out of the various healthcare-related information, patients prefer receiving communication regarding “general health and wellness tips,” “scheduling options for preventive screenings,” and “appointment availability.”

Physicians can make their practice stand out with strong communication. Only 29 percent of patients receive communications about preventive screenings, while only 21 percent “receive information related to their chronic conditions.”

  • During and after the pandemic, providers can meet shifting patient expectations by:
  • Leveraging patient data in their electronic health records (EHR) to anticipate patients’ communication needs and preferences
  • Communicate proactively and by using different methods, like SMS
  • Use data to identify patient care gaps and adjust messaging accordingly

With the right combination of technology, patient data, and communication capabilities, physicians can proactively prepare for the shift in patient preferences and improve their patient acquisition and retention.

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