The Intake

Insights for those starting, managing, and growing independent healthcare practices

2024 patient perspectives: What practices need to know to enhance patient satisfaction and loyalty

Know what your patients expect in 2024 to improve satisfaction and retention.

Tracking 2024 patient perspectives and preferences

At a Glance

  • Patients who feel heard and understood are loyal to their current provider
  • Digital access to book appointments and communicate with providers is important
  • Patients have become comfortable with virtual appointments and, when possible, want them to continue
  • Asking patients for feedback is valuable as is a fast response
  • It is essential to follow-up with patients who express they had a negative experience

In our 5th consecutive Patient Perspective survey, Tebra surveyed patients to better understand their experiences and expectations for provider care, communication with practices, and the role of technology in their healthcare journey. Our annual report shares crucial insights to support independent practices in understanding patient behavior and wishes to best meet their needs.

Below we share some highlights from this year’s report. 

Key findings from the 5th annual 2024 Patient Perspective report

As the below highlights indicate, patients want access, responsiveness, and to be treated like they matter. Here are 6 of the key points:

  • Patient loyalty: 47% leave due to poor provider experiences, while 61% stay loyal for excellent care.
  • Limited tolerance: 86% give up to 2 chances after poor care. (The majority end their relationship after 2 poor experiences with the staff or providers.) 
  • Portal engagement: 68% of those surveyed and are without digital access wish they had the option, but only if providers commit to respond in a timely manner. 
  • Virtual appointments: 53% prefer the convenience of telehealth virtual appointments.
  • Digital intake: 92% are willing to digitally complete forms for convenience and accuracy.
  • Forgiveness: 66% don't receive follow-up after negative review — yet providers who take time to address concerns can win back 64% of them.

How patients find and choose healthcare providers

When it comes to choosing a practice, location is the biggest factor for patients. But community reputation ranks highly as well: 48% of people say word of mouth is the second most important factor in selecting a healthcare provider — beating out online reviews of a practice’s website, which took second place last year. 

The importance of following up on reviews for patient retention

Receiving poor quality of care was patients' number 1 reason for leaving negative feedback for their provider (32%). This was the top complaint and is more than double of those choosing a different provider because of poor bedside manner (15%) or issues with the front desk (15%). 

Receiving poor quality of care was patients' number 1 reason for leaving negative feedback for their provider (32%). ”

Practices are wise to shore up review request practices. According to the survey, providers never ask almost half of patients surveyed (44%) for a review. Even more troubling, ¾ of patients who leave negative reviews never receive a response from the provider. 

For practices, patient outreach after a negative review is an essential tool in patient retention. Two-thirds of patients surveyed reported not receiving a followup from the provider after leaving a negative review online — a missed opportunity, as addressing concerns can win back 64% of these patients.

Download the report

What’s most important to patients in 2024

This year’s survey showed that patients continue to want virtual access to providers. Virtual appointments remained a desired offering, as did an intuitive patient portal, and the ability to digitally complete the intake process. 

Virtual appointments

Considering the always-on schedules of today, it’s unsurprising patients want access to virtual appointments. Of the patients surveyed, 53% prefer them over in-person visits, as long as a physical exam isn’t needed. 

Numbers around patient desires for virtual appointments have remained steady since 2023, signaling that demand for them isn’t likely to decline anytime soon. 

Patients want portals — and engagement

Patients are clear: they are eager for patient portals, but only if: 

  • Providers are highly-responsive 
  • The platform is user-friendly 

More than ⅔ (68%) of patients say they want a portal, but only if these conditions are met. 

The highly-responsive part is key. Nine of 10 patients (91%) say they expect a response from providers within 4-24 hours — actual hours rather than business hours. 

Patients bring their consumer expectations to patient portals. Therefore, be sure to offer patients a user-friendly, intuitive platform. To encourage patients to use the patient portal, ensure you’re responding to all inquiries with care and empathy, and in a timely manner. 

Digital intake is becoming universal and preferred

Patients are more than willing to fill out intake forms digitally, with 92% agreeing they would do so, while 68% of the patients who participated in our survey want intake to be exclusively digital. Digital or not, the results are overwhelming. Most patients want to complete intake before arriving for their scheduled visit: 92% said they want to get it out the way before coming in for an appointment. 

Most patients want to complete intake before arriving for their scheduled visit: 92% said they want to get it out the way before coming in for an appointment. ”

Despite patient preferences leaning towards digital intake for time-saving purposes, practices are falling behind. According to surveys, 68% of practices report that their intake process spans between 11 to 30 minutes.

To streamline your patient intake process, pull in electronic tools to save time and streamline submission where possible. Practices should invest in technology that:

  • Reminds patients to complete intake forms in advance of their appointment
  • Allows them to do so online
  • Securely stores the sensitive patient information in a single repository

Adding this process to your standard intake will have a positive impact on all involved. 

Quality of care

Unchanged from last year, patients still prioritize quality care above all else — and are willing to find a new provider if they don’t receive it. More than 4 in 5 patients say they would leave a practice after 2 poor experiences with their provider, and 47% of the patients we surveyed say they have left previous practices due to poor experiences with the provider. 

Software impacting quality of care

Ever-squeezed for time, providers should be focused on providing the best possible patient experience in order to prioritize patient well-being and retention. Yet most providers spend a considerable amount of time on manual work. 

Investing in a robust electronics health records system (EHR) allows providers to offload manual, repetitive tasks to better focus on patient care and experiences. What’s more, a great EHR allows practices to request feedback and capture patient permission for their information to be used across the practices' online presence. 

Quality care is the key to patient retention

We entrust medical providers with caring for our health and well-being, so it’s no surprise patients value quality of care above all else. When it comes to patient retention, quality of care is the bedrock. 

Quality of care encompasses everything from the actual medical or dental care provided, to front desk communication, to appointment availability. In other words, patients define quality of care as how they are treated from the moment they schedule their first appointment to when their relationship with the provider ends. 

Results from our 5th Patient Perspective survey demonstrate that it’s evident that patient loyalty hinges on quality care experiences. Patients placed a significant emphasis on responsiveness and convenience in digital interactions. Moving forward, practices must prioritize integrating electronic tools to streamline processes and enhance patient engagement, ultimately ensuring quality care delivery and fostering patient retention.

To learn more about patient expectations and behaviors, download our 5th annual patient perspective report. 

Patient Perspectives Report

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Learn how to create a seamless patient experience that increases loyalty and reduces churn, while providing personalized care that drives practice growth in Tebra’s free guide to optimizing your practice.

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Catherine Tansey, business writer and reporter

Catherine Tansey is a business and healthcare writer and reporter. She has close to a decade of experience writing and reporting on small business best practices, emerging technology, market trends, and more. Catherine has several family members who own private practices in mental health services, dentistry, and chiropractics, and she’s seen firsthand the pride and privilege practice owners feel to be able to support their communities.

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