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Survey Breaks Down Patients’ Biggest ‘Pain Points’ When Seeking Care

Long wait times at primary care offices and walk-in clinics are a deterrent for many people to seeking healthcare, especially younger generations. But new research adds that another negative experience may play an even bigger role.

Waiting rooms vs. wait times

According to research from software company Qualtrics, titled the Healthcare Pain Index, “unpleasant waiting rooms” are the most common pain point among participants, who answered survey questions while visiting one of three types of facilities: primary care, urgent care or emergency departments. The patients involved represent a global audience over 18 years old, researchers said.

RELATED: 6 Ways Primary Care Facilities Can Attract Young People Who Prefer Retail Clinics and Urgent Care

Almost one-third, 29 percent, of participants in urgent and primary care said “unpleasant waiting rooms” were the reason main they would not to return to a given facility, along with 20 percent of ED visitors. Long wait times came in second, with 11 percent of urgent care and ED patients and 6 percent of primary care patients.

“Many people experience very long wait times, [but] that isn’t a reason people say they would switch between specific facilities,” researchers noted. “Whether this is due to patients having very low expectations, few alternatives, or are just genuinely not bothered by waiting remains unclear.”

The survey also found that satisfaction with the waiting room was a strong predictor of patient satisfaction overall. Patients at the emergency department, primary care and urgent care who disliked the waiting room were 9 times, 5 times and 4 times more likely (respectively) to be dissatisfied overall.

RELATED: 3 Cost-Effective Ways to Improve Emergency Departments’ Quality of Care

What about cost transparency?

Other interesting findings address how patients feel about interacting with more than one provider, cost transparency, virtual care and online health information:

  • Urgent care patients who work with more than 2 medical personnel are 1.8 times more likely to be dissatisfied with their overall experience.
  • Higher than expected costs is the number 1 reason people don’t return to a specific emergency room. This ranks much lower for primary and urgent care.
  • Overall patients preferred in-person to virtual care, but the different between the two in the U.S., 15 percent, is smaller than in the rest of the world.
  • One in 10 ER and urgent care patients said they’d follow something they read online even if it directly contradicted their provider’s guidance.

NPs and PAs, take note…

For advanced practice providers, another aspect of the survey will stand out. Almost half of patients, 44 percent, said they trust their APPs equally to physicians. Some 16 percent said they trust APPs more and 40 percent felt that way about physicians.

Read the full report at


Healthcare Pain Index 2019, Qualtrics.

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