What Do Patients Really Want?

As medical device marketers, we believe we know what patients want in their healthcare journeys. The majority of content we create focuses on education and awareness, striving to provide patients with the information they need to make informed decisions with their physicians.

But is this enough?

In a survey study of more than 9,000 Americans adults, scores for shared decision making between patient and physician increased significantly from 2002 to 2014. Clearly, patients are feeling better about their interactions with physicians on some key attributes.

But that same survey reported that 30% of Americans feel their physician does not listen to them adequately, and 40% felt that their physician did not spend enough time with them.

Our goal in marketing is to help patients learn more about their health, to help them in an environment where their physician is not available to do so. But we are not physicians. And patients are feeling like they are not being heard.

According to Medscape’s 2016 Physician Compensation Report, most physicians spend an average of 13 to 15 minutes with each patient. For primary care doctors on the front lines of patient care, 80% of physicians spend less than 24 minutes with each patients; and 20% are spending just 9 to 11 minutes.

Of course, there are multiple levers that drive this behavior – a lack of time, financial pressure from both hospital employers and from insurers, and the decrease in physician-owned practices where the partners have control over their own time management.

As patients ourselves, we have come to expect this rush when we see our physicians. But wouldn’t it be nice if physicians and insurers recognize that “customer service” has to play a role in driving better outcomes? Happier patients are more likely to follow care regimens, heal faster and refer other patients.

Patients want to be heard. We need to find a way to make this a priority – how do we help patients feel like valued customers?

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