Software Advice reported that the use of technology is often the answer to more efficient patient care.

Katie Hobbins, Managing Editor

December 7, 2022

4 Min Read
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Image courtesy of insta_photos / Alamy Stock Photo

Thinking back to before COVID-19 crashed into the United States and ushered the population inside with only TikTok dances and government recommended walks to keep the mind occupied, one might forget just how different the medical industry looked only three years ago. From a patient’s perspective, interacting with physicians and medical care personnel has been turned on its head. Telemedicine, a term that became mainstream only three years ago, has taken over, and physicians are still trying to unravel how to adapt and thrive in this tech-forward environment.

To help understand the biggest patient pain-points faced in 2022 and how practices and healthcare providers can address them, Software Advice surveyed 1,001 adults in the United States who visited a healthcare provider at least once in the past three years. In the survey, the company compiled their experiences with in-person visits, telemedicine, and the use of certain healthcare tools like patient portals.

For in-person visits, the main pain-points were waiting room times, appointment scheduling, time to get to the appointment, and the amount of time the physician spent with the patient. People surveyed highlighted that a main issue with going to a doctor’s appointment is just how consuming it tends to be. Nearly a third of those surveyed (32%) reported that travel-related issues were the top pain-point for in-person medical appointments, including dealing with traffic, parking, or public transportation. Once a patient arrives at the office however, the most expressed pain-point reported by a wide margin (49%) was the amount of time spent in the waiting room. Additionally, scheduling appointments saw a 31% pain-point score.

The problems don’t stop in the waiting room, however. Some patients were left feeling devalued after providers sped through consultations (25%) and some say providers didn’t listen to concerns voiced during appointments, potentially leading to poor health outcomes (14%). Over a third said they spent 10-minutes or fewer with a physician (37%) while 46% only received between 10- and 20-minutes of care.

These short face-to-face encounters with physicians come in stark comparison with the amount of time most patients are forced to take off work in order to attend in-person appointments, between one and three hours. This means that, at most, patients are only seeing doctors for one-fifth of the time they take off work. Software Advice reported that the consequences of these pain-points could make patients question whether it’s worthwhile, from a financial standpoint, to put the time and effort into going and may seek other providers or put off care entirely.

Compared to in-person appointments, patients described pain-points for telehealth as much less significant. The main issue that patients ran into with telehealth was that not all illnesses can be diagnosed or treated remotely (34%). Other pain-points included appointment scheduling (26%), technology requirements (24%), finding a provider who offers telemedicine (21%), and unclear costs (17%).

Much like in-person visits, the survey showed that most patients reported only up to 20-minutes of a provider’s time in a virtual appointment. While the brief time with a doctor was a negative for in-person appointments, however, quick telehealth visits were seen a positive, considering that patients could spend significantly less time away from work.

The benefits of offering telehealth appointments, according to Software Advice, included no wait times and not having to take off multiple hours of work, making it easier for patients to manage their schedule.

Along with the value of using telehealth, another tool that patients reported helped address concerns and complaints is access to a patient portal. Patients find using these tools are easy and providers reported that it saves time. When rating ease of use for patient portal tools, those surveyed reported that 50% thought the tool was very easy to use to communicate with a provider, and 59% said it was very easy to receive test results. For bill payment and appointment scheduling, 40% and 33%, respectively, reported that it was very easy to use.

The company found that the use of technology is often the answer to more efficient patient care. Additionally, many patients are coming to expect it to be used when seeking both in-person appointments and telemedicine.

“Two-thirds of surveyed patients expect healthcare providers to use tools such as telemedicine platforms and patient portals to make treatment and communication more manageable,” according to Software Advice, in a press release sharing the survey results.

About the Author(s)

Katie Hobbins

Managing Editor, MD+DI

Katie Hobbins is managing editor for MD+DI and joined the team in July 2022. She boasts multiple previous editorial roles in print and multimedia medical journalism, including dermatology, medical aesthetics, and pediatric medicine. She graduated from Cleveland State University in 2018 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and promotional communications. She enjoys yoga, hand embroidery, and anything DIY. You can reach her at [email protected].

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