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2023 patient survey: Tracking patient behavior, preferences, and habits

Tebra’s 4th annual patient perspectives reports gives physicians insight into how patients perceive their healthcare providers in 2023

healthcare staff and patient

At a Glance

  • Patients increasingly rely on online reviews and digital resources to choose healthcare providers, making a strong online presence crucial for practices’ success.
  • Online reviews are the most influential factor for patients when evaluating healthcare providers, with 93% considering them important.
  • Patients prioritize accessibility and digital interactions, including text messaging and patient portals, in their healthcare experiences.

For the fourth consecutive year, Tebra asked patients survey questions about their recent experiences with healthcare providers, what they want and expect from their medical care team, and how they choose them.

Tebra’s annual Patient Perspective survey report contains insights to help independent practices better understand patient behavior and manage their operations. As a result, practices can identify which adjustments are worth making and how to better satisfy patients.

Key findings from the 4th annual 2023 Patient Perspectives report

  1. Doctor loyalty is a thing of the past. Patients use online reviews and positive consumer experiences to choose new healthcare providers — and it doesn’t take much for them to make the switch.
  2. An online presence is non-negotiable for attracting new patients. Most (3 in 4) people look online to find out about doctors, dentists, or medical care — and it’s especially important when people are searching for new care providers. A website is just the start; pay attention to reviews, online directories, and other digital touchpoints.
  3. Text messaging is still the most popular way to contact patients about appointments. Patients appreciate when their healthcare provider keeps them informed about appointments (when they need to be scheduled, when they’re coming up, follow-up information, etc.). For most of these reminders, patients prefer digital interactions, including text messaging.
  4. Patients would engage in social media with providers if they could. Only 18% of respondents said they follow their doctor’s office on social media, but 45% said they would if their doctor posted regularly. Social media is a missed opportunity for practices to engage with patients outside the office.

How patients find and choose healthcare providers

More and more people are using online resources to find their next doctor, dentist, or other healthcare professional, so establishing and maintaining an optimized web presence remains crucial to your practice’s success. When choosing their healthcare providers, patients consistently go online to make their decision. In fact, 75% of people have searched online to find out about healthcare.

75% of people have searched online to find out about healthcare. ”

Although this number has been consistent over the last 3 years, there is a gradual increase among those searching online regularly. In this year’s survey, 77% of patients answering survey questions said they seek information online often or sometimes, up from 60.7% in 2021 and 58.4% in 2020.

Online reviews are the most influential decision-making factor for patients evaluating a doctor or dentist. Online reviews are extremely or very important when choosing a healthcare provider for 3 in 4 patients.

Resources that contribute to patients’ decisions

The top 5 places patients go to find provider reviews are: Google (58%), the practice’s website (34%), WebMD (31%), Facebook (16%), and Yelp (14%). Online reviews were patients’ top resource in the last 3 trend reports and remained the top digital resource in 2022. In 2023, 93% of patients say reviews are at least somewhat important — an all-time high.

The influence of online reviews on patient behavior

While patients have long relied on online reviews to choose their providers, they are becoming even more selective. Over half (56%) say they will not consider a healthcare provider with an online average star rating of less than 4.

Patients look for more than just glowing reviews. They also consider how recently reviews were posted (43%), average star rating (38%), and total number of reviews (15%). 

What’s most important to patients in 2023

Given today’s over-scheduled lives, it’s unsurprising that what patients want most is accessibility. Many patients (61.7%) said what they most wanted from their healthcare providers was available appointments when they needed them. And 1 in 3 want prompt responses to questions and concerns. They also want a welcoming staff (53%), a provider who is a good listener (50%), and a short wait (47%).

Increasingly, patients want more options for digital experiences for both pre- and post-visit interactions. More than 50% of patients said they preferred a digital option for paying their bill or asking their provider a question, and over 60% want a digital way to schedule an appointment and fill out registration and other forms.

Preference for digital interactions

The majority of patients (67.3%) want to receive text messages — specifically for appointment-related reminders. Additionally, 47% want a text to remind them to book an appointment. For personal communication, patient portals have emerged as a top patient preference with 37% preferring portals for making an appointment, and 29% preferring portals for getting answers to questions or feedback. 

How patients share reviews and feedback

The number of patients willing to share their experience online is increasing — nearly half (48%) of patients have posted an online review of a healthcare provider, up from 45% in 2021.

Of these patients, 16% have posted at least one negative review. The top 3 reasons a patient will leave a negative review? The quality of care delivered, issues with cost or billing, and issues with the front desk staff.

Similar to years past, the vast majority of patients are sharing online reviews on Google.

Patients switching doctors is down

Almost one-third of patients (29%) who responded to survey questions have left a healthcare provider in the last 2 years. Of them, 50% said their decision was due to appointment availability. Patients also reported that they would switch providers in search of a good listener, prompt responses to questions and concerns, and a short wait time. 

The 2023 results illustrate that patients continue to prize quality care above all else. But now more than ever, they want access to appointments — and will switch providers to find them. Having a professional and modern practice website and online presence, including being active on social, is a must, and reviews remain a top deciding factor for patients when seeking new medical care providers. 

Patient Perspectives Report


Tebra surveyed 1,221 people in November 2022 using Alchemer. 

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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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