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Recent Poll Indicates Access to Care may not be Improving

07 Apr, 2023 F.J. Thomas

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Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – Ease of access to healthcare is a factor in not only outcomes, but also whether or not an injured employee remains compliant as a patient. Ease of access and communication is also a factor for those scheduling care for injured workers.
What is interesting is that patients and physicians have diverse impressions of the patient experience. According to a recent report from Experian on patient access, patients and physicians have completely different takes on the current state of access to care, and the hurdles that may keep patients from being compliant.
Last year, Experian polled 202 healthcare providers that were engaged in decision making for patient access. Additionally, Experian polled 1,001 patients that had sought out care within the previous 12 months. The poll was part of an ongoing survey that began in 2020.
Participants were asked about their thoughts on whether access to care was better or worse. Additionally they were asked about their health priorities, and their experience on the front end of care.
During the pandemic, 7 in 10 hospitals began offering patients access to their health information via apps. Additionally, 4 out of 5 hospitals offered online portals so patients could access their medical information. With the implementation of virtual options for patients, the changes set the bar for expectations going forward for both patients and providers.
Surprisingly, even with increase in the opportunities for telehealth, the opinions on the healthcare experience of both patients and providers is actually getting worse. In fact, most participants in the survey felt that healthcare access experience overall is the same or worse than it has been over the last 12 to 24 months. In fact, 47 percent of the physicians polled and 21 percent of the patients polled felt access was worse. Twenty-five percent of physicians and 62 percent of patients felt it was the same. Seventeen percent of patients and 27 percent of physicians felt the experience of accessing healthcare had improved.
For patients, the top pain point was getting to see a provider quickly, which accounted for 78 percent. Finding an appointment that fits a personal schedule totaled 49 percent. The general process for scheduling an appointment came in at 40 percent.
Eighty-seven percent of physicians polled felt that staffing shortages were the biggest challenge impacting service levels. Sixty-four percent of physicians felt the pandemic was still causing confusion, and 63 percent responded that providing cost estimates was challenging.
While nearly half of providers believe that access to care is worse today than it was previously, 36 percent think patients are frustrated by the lack of digital options, and 30 percent believe that patients aren’t frustrated at all. Sixty-nine percent of providers polled believe that digital or mobile access is a high priority for patients, and 86 percent believe that it is more important to improve both the access and financial experiences of patients.
Seventy-six percent of patients indicated they would like to schedule appointments either online or via a mobile device. Fifty-six percent stated they wanted more digital options for managing their care.
What is concerning is that of those patients that believe access to care has gotten worse, more than half at 56 percent have considered dropping their provider due to their dissatisfaction. While getting in to see a provider quickly was the largest challenge listed by patients, the number of patients listing this issue as the top challenge has increased steadily over the past 3 years. In 2020, only 15 percent cited seeing a provider timely as an issue, but that percentage increased to 18 percent in 2021, and 27 percent in 2022.
In 2020, 40 percent of providers currently offered self-scheduling, and 31 percent were planning to offer the option in 6 months. What is interesting is that in 2021, the percent of physicians offering self-scheduling jumped to 56 percent, but then dropped back down to 40 percent last year. The percent of physicians planning to offer self-scheduling dropped as well, going from 35 percent in 2021 to 26 percent in 2022.
While the survey was aimed at private pay patients and not necessarily workers compensation patients, some of the answers give insight into how providers are actually handling calculating estimates overall. Sixty-five percent of patients indicated they did not receive an estimate prior to care. Of those that did receive an estimate, 41 percent stated the final costs were higher than expected. Sixty-seven percent of providers believe their organization provides clear, understandable estimates prior to care.
Depending on how a State’s workers compensation is structured, it is possible provider offices may have difficulty in providing timely estimates for injured workers. Ultimately that challenge could be a potential factor in scheduling patients timely. Two ways to avoid those issues is become well educated on how to calculate your workers compensation rates, and develop relationships with staff that may be creating estimates for you.


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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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