One of the biggest research done for patients in 2020, Patients reported that they wanted convenient access to healthcare at a low cost, with many opting for an urgent care center, retail clinic, or digital or telehealth visit instead of visiting an emergency department or primary care clinic. Those decisions can change with the severity of a patient’s symptoms, the researchers added. A set of serious cold or flu symptoms, major aches or potential injuries, or other alarming rashes or other illnesses could prompt a patient to visit a higher acuity care facility, like the emergency department or primary care clinic.
And those factors, taken into account alongside sociodemographic data, zip code data, and other location-based data that influence patients’ experiences with healthcare, can help predict where they will go for treatment. For example, users can enter a US zip code into the model and see that some patients with a certain affliction might choose to visit urgent care, use self-care and self-management techniques, or wait out a certain condition. Users can modify those findings based on whether the patient would see “medium” wait times in an emergency department.
While the model doesn’t do much as far as triage or patient education goes, it does give payers and providers the tools they need to influence where a patient will access care. Each of the symptoms listed in the model can be treated in urgent care, retail clinics, primary care, or even over telehealth or secure direct message.
Payers and providers can use the information on the Where Do Patients Go tool to shape their care offerings or benefits packages to ensure patients visit the right care facility based on their needs.