In our work with thousands of primary care physicians across the country, we have found that only 30% of physicians are able to offer a new patient appointment within seven days. Our hypothesis was that patient expectations would vary from this reality. So, we completed a national study of 6,725 potential patients across the country and asked “how many days are you willing to wait to see a new primary care physician?”
We found that patient expectations for access to primary care were much higher than today’s reality. 77.4% of survey respondents expect to see a new primary care physician in seven days or less. 36.2% of patients expect to see a physician within one day and 57.5% of people expect access in three days or less.
Following are the Top Findings from our survey.
Finding #1: There is No Real Gender Gap in Expectations
When analyzing our findings based on gender, we found that the expectations for primary care access were remarkably similar for men and women. 77.6% of men expect access within seven days and 75.7% of women expect the same. Men had slightly higher expectations of an appointment within one day at 37.1% compared to women at 32.1%.
Finding #2: 45 to 54 Year Olds Have Higher Expectations
The 45 to 54 age cohort expects access to primary care within seven days 80.7% of the time. In addition, 38.7% of the patients within this age range expect access within a day. The least demanding age cohort is the 18 to 24 year olds – they expect access within seven days 71% of the time, which is still significant.
Finding #3: Overall, Market Type Does Not Matter
Analyzing patient expectations by market type – urban, suburban, and rural – yielded almost identical results overall. Patients in urban markets expect access within seven days 77.9% of the time, 77.1% of the time in suburban markets, and 77.1% of the time in rural markets. Consumers within rural markets expect access within one day at a slightly higher rate, at 39.6% of the time.
Finding #4: Those Earning $24K or Less Are Slightly More Willing to Wait
Patients earning between $0 and $24,000 per year expect access to a new primary care physician within seven days 72.2% of the time. By comparison, those earning between $25,000 and $49,999 per year expect seven-day access 79.4% of the time and within a day 37.5% of the time.
While the gulf between today’s reality and patient expectations is wide, it presents a real opportunity for hospitals and health systems. The first-to-market advantage of a primary care network that can accept new patients within seven days is tremendous. For those that can figure out same day/next day access a third of the time, the primary care market share could shift in a meaningful way.
Do you have a patient access problem? Check out our benchmarking data to evaluate your patient access.
For more information on how to best measure and solve for primary care access, please contact Shane Foreman at 312-423-2671 / firstname.lastname@example.org or Brittany Foreman at 281-750-5614 / email@example.com.