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Why Do Consumers Change Healthcare Providers?

Patient talking to doctor over video call

As patients return back to doctor’s offices and hospitals, not all of them will go back to the same providers they used to. Some may have changed healthcare providers in the wake of COVID-19.

But what if that isn’t the case? What truly makes a patient decide that they want a different healthcare provider? That answer varies depending on the patient, of course, but understanding the reasons now will help you increase market share in the long run.


Healthcare isn’t cheap. While it’s unsurprising, more than half of Americans have avoided medical care due to cost. And even if you stay in-network, one in five operations can still lead to a surprise bill.

That’s why it’s important to be upfront and transparent about costs from the very beginning. Posting prices online is a start, but even talking to patients about costs is recommended. The more empowered a patient is about their healthcare costs with you, the more likely they won’t change healthcare providers.

Not Adapting to Technology

By this point, most physicians have switched over to EMRs, but for a while, it seemed like healthcare was still slow to adapt to new technologies. For some patients, they’re so frustrated that 41 percent would consider switching providers for a better digital experience.

Then COVID-19 hit and everything seemed to change overnight. Practices that didn’t imagine using telehealth now are or are scrambling to get it to navigate COVID-19. And many say it’s here to stay, including CMS administrator Seema Verma when she spoke to the Wall Street Journal.

"I think it's fair to say that the advent of telehealth has been just completely accelerated, that it’s taken this crisis to push us to a new frontier, but there's absolutely no going back."

Before COVID-19, PatientBond’s Consumer Diagnostic, a national market research study on healthcare consumers, found that two psychographic segments that represent 50 percent of healthcare consumers (Self Achievers and Willful Endurers) make up 70 percent of telehealth users. Post COVID-19, there’s no doubt that telehealth use will go up across the board, but if you can’t engage these specific segments well, you run the risk of losing patients.

Healthcare consumers will expect providers to offer telehealth and it is imperative now more than ever to adapt to technology now to retain patients and attract new ones. Providers can do this by investing in telehealth, incorporating wearables to monitor patients for specific conditions and using artificial intelligence to leverage big data. Not only does embracing technology attract and retain patients, but many of these tools improve health outcomes.

Telehealth is only the beginning of what patients expect from providers. Now is the time to get ahead of it.

Poor Health Outcomes

While mistakes can happen in modern medicine, they seem to happen more often than we’d like. In fact, one in six doctors admits they make a diagnostic mistake daily. Depending on the misdiagnosis, a mistake could cause more harm to patients over the long-term if it isn’t correctly diagnosed soon enough. And if that’s the case, once a patient finds out they’re misdiagnosed, it’s almost a guarantee they will change their doctor or provider.

This can be avoided through consistent patient engagement. That way, doctors can keep a closer eye on their patients so they can more easily spot red flags.

And you can take it a step further by incorporating psychographic segmentation into your messaging. Depending on what psychographic segment your patient is, messages are sent to the patient that motivates them to take action, all based on their individual beliefs, values and lifestyle. So instead of throwing a bunch of the same thing at everyone, you can specify based on their segment. You’ll win over all types of patients while encouraging better health outcomes.

Lack of Loyalty

Patients don’t visit their doctors like they used to. According to PatientBond’s Consumer Diagnostic, nearly one in five patients does not have a primary care provider. Among Gen Z, it’s one in three.

So how can you keep patients coming back? Other than digital patient engagement, you can build patient loyalty by encouraging your patients to be brand advocates. Have patients fill out surveys after appointments or on an annual basis to see how your practice can improve. Encourage patients to share reviews on Google or social media pages and quickly address negative reviews when you see them.

Patients will appreciate the effort to improve as a provider and, if your reviews are positive, you’ll also attract incoming patients. Loyal patients attract other patients to your practice who are looking for a provider who cares.

Patients don’t want to change healthcare providers if they don’t have to. By keeping these thoughts top of mind, you’ll retain and add patients for years to come.

Interested in diving deeper into the PatientBond’s psychographic segmentation model? Read our whitepaper today.

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change


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