Steering Patients Through the Healthcare System


New survey reveals impact of consumer challenges navigating the complexities of today's healthcare system when searching for the right care.


Navigating a confusing and overwhelming healthcare system is essential if patients are to access the healthcare they need. Without effective and efficient navigation, patients risk financial burden as well as frustration resulting from potentially unnecessary tests/screenings and multiple visits to find the right doctor. Also, poor navigation wastes physicians’ time and doesn’t allow them to focus their attention on the patients they are best trained to treat.  

According to a recent online survey of 1,000 U.S. adult consumers conducted by ArmadaHealth, a healthcare provider recommendations company, 31% seek medical care every three to six months for specific follow-ups while 29% only seek care annually for preventative purposes. Further, 60% of consumers are going to their primary care physician when seeking care. These numbers demonstrate just how important it is that patients are finding and receiving high-quality medical care, according to the company.

“Having diverse perspectives and insights into the full healthcare ecosystem is paramount,” says Steve Schaefer, CEO, ArmadaHealth. “For example, 17% percent of respondents stated they felt finding a qualified doctor to be confusing and time consuming. Another 30% said that they either can’t get an appointment quickly enough, or are too busy to make time to see a doctor, both of which cause treatment delays. The industry must get better at providing, what I consider, the gold standard of care. The first step to that is increasing transparency, specifically, navigation pathways to high-quality providers.”

Related: 5 Things Consumers Want From Healthcare

Consumers are not equipped with the right information necessary to navigate the complexities and confusion of today's healthcare system––specifically as it pertains to finding the right doctor or specialist for their care needs, according to Suzanne Sysko Clough, MD, ArmadaHealth’s chief medical officer.

“In fact, some doctors agree, as demonstrated in a recent study by the American Thyroid Association (ATA), who identified, ‘when searching disorders treated by endocrine surgeons, the majority of websites do not primarily direct patients to an endocrine surgeon.’ Their study highlighted that at 6.25% of the hospitals they researched, an appropriate endocrine surgeon was revealed as the predominant provider following a search for ‘thyroid nodule,’ countered by 25% of hospitals that did not reveal an endocrine surgeon at all.

“Their results further prove that without the right information and access to care, the result can be dangerous, costly, and have life changing consequences––misdiagnoses, incorrect and uninformed treatment plans, botched procedures, unnecessary medications, tests or surgeries, or worse––death. As a result, all constituents across the spectrum of healthcare are being held accountable to provide improved access to higher quality care at a lower cost that meets the expectations of today’s consumer,” Clough says.

“Our survey findings demonstrate that sentiment and help inform how healthcare executives should be enabling evidence-based, verified information and always on support,” Schaefer says. This will empower consumers to feel better informed and confident in the decisions they make regarding which doctor is best suited to manage their unique health needs from the start––leading to improved health outcomes, reduced healthcare expenses, and increased efficiency and performance for all.”

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