Survey: Most Americans are still setting up doctor appointments, getting test results via phone calls

By Jonah Comstock
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A new survey from Salesforce of 1,700 American adults shows that most are satisfied with the care they receive from their physicians, despite fairly limited adoption of online tools to communicate with their doctors.

Less than 10 percent of those surveyed said they use the web, email or text to set up appointments, compared to 76 percent that still do so over the phone and 25 percent that schedule their appointments in person.

salesforce health survey

When it comes to looking at their own health data, only 21 percent said they used the web (likely via a patient portal). Eleven percent use the phone, 10 percent use email, and 40 percent said they review their health data in person. 

Most patients don't have any kind of personal health record. Asked how they keep track of their health data, 62 percent said they rely on their doctor, 36 percent used some kind of electronic record, 28 percent used some kind of physical record, and 9 percent said they didn't keep track of their health data at all (for many of the questions, respondents were allowed to choose multiple options).

For getting test results, 44 percent got them in person, 35 percent checked in by phone, and 17 percent used the web. Another 15 percent waited for test results to come via snail mail and 12 percent received them by email.

Only six percent of respondents got any kind of text message reminder from their doctor, while 48 percent got reminder phone calls and 22 percent got reminders via email for things like appointments and prescription refills.

While 92 percent of respondents professed satisfaction with their primary care physician and 86 percent reported being generally satisfied with their care, respondents didn't love the amount of attention they got from physicians outside the doctor's office. Forty percent said they receive no ongoing care recommendations from their physician and the lowest area of satisfaction was with education on preventative care (70 percent satisfaction).

Most respondents had more than one doctor -- the average American with health insurance sees their doctor three times a year and has an average of 2.5 doctors involved in their care -- and only 76 percent were confident that their doctors were sharing health records between them for a holistic view of their health.

Millenials in particular are looking for a more personal connection with their doctor and hoping technology will support it. Forty percent of millennials said they didn't think their primary care physician would recognize them if they passed each other on the street. Sixty percent of millennials support the use of telehealth options to eliminate in-person health visits, the survey showed, and 71 percent would like to have their provider use an app to book appointments, share health data and manage preventive care.