The Data Point: 62% of Digital-First Patients Used a New Healthcare Provider for Latest Visit

Digital-First Patients Use New Healthcare Providers

Displeased for decades by opacity and inefficiency, consumers are forcing the healthcare sector to shift digital faster and more fully as patients increasingly identify as digital-first, bringing with them the instant, seamless expectations acquired through years of smartphone-powered living.

For the study “Accessing Healthcare: Easing Digital Frictions in the Patient Journey” a PYMNTS and Experian Health collaboration, more than 2,300 consumers were surveyed in late January, resulting in the identification of four distinct personas and the ways each experience their healthcare journey.

Get the report: Easing Digital Frictions in the Patient Journey

The four patient personas are the Digital-First (35.4%) who want digital engagement across at least five healthcare activities; the Mostly Digital (41.5%), tapping digital for three to four of their healthcare needs; the Partially Digital (15.2%) who dip a toe into digital but not to the extent of their digital-dominant cohorts; and the Nondigital (7.9%).

Read more: 2,300 Patients Tell PYMNTS Why They’d Switch Drs. for a Better Portal

It’s the behavior of the nearly 36% of digital-first patients that gives the best glimpse at the future of healthcare.

  • 62% of Digital-Firsts used new providers for their most recent visit, compared with 48% of Nondigitals.

With 21% of digital-first patients saying they encounter difficulties getting cost estimates before appointments, 62% of digital-first patients report using new providers for their most recent visit, compared to 48% of nondigital patients. Digital access is now a deciding factor.

  • 64% of all patients use portals, and 82% of Digital-Firsts use them, compared with just 19% of Nondigitals.

Access to online portals has an attraction that crosses the digital divide in a big way. Younger patients and those with higher incomes also use patient portals more often than others.

The study found that nearly 80% of Generation Z patients “are likely to switch healthcare providers” to gain better portal access, and surprisingly, 77% of nondigital patients “also exhibit very strong interest in switching to a healthcare provider that makes such a digital solution available.”

  • 27% would have used digital or mobile wallets to pay their healthcare providers if given the option.

More patients also want online portals to accept a widening array of payment methods

Per the findings, 27% “would have used digital or mobile wallets to pay their healthcare providers if these options were available, 16% cited PayPal, 3% cited Apple Pay, 4% cited Google Pay and 4% cited Venmo. Only 8% have used digital or mobile wallets to pay their providers, however, and 4% have used PayPal, 2% have used Apple Pay, 1% have used Google Pay, and 1% have used Venmo.”