June 23, 2015

New study: Why Americans are dropping out of healthcare

Zocdoc survey reveals four in five Americans are holding off preventive care; busy, everyday life and a complicated healthcare system are top culprits

NEW YORK, June 23, 2015 – Americans across the board – especially Millennials – are dropping out of healthcare amidst busy lives and a complex and antiquated healthcare system, according to a new survey released today from digital health platform Zocdoc. While politicos and lobbyists are transfixed by an important yet politicized national debate on healthcare access and systemic structures, 80 percent of Americans admit they are delaying or forgoing preventive care. The issue is worse for Millennials, with nine in 10 (93%) not scheduling doctor visits.

Preventive care isn’t the only challenge, according to the more than 2,000 Americans surveyed in the Zocdoc study. Nearly a third (31%) report that the difficulty of getting in to see a doctor at the last minute is a reason they don’t make appointments right away when they feel sick. Instead, they are tempted to settle for “Dr. Google.” Forty-three percent of respondents say it would be easier for them to diagnose and treat themselves than to quickly access a doctor if they are feeling unwell.

“There’s an important healthcare debate happening in Washington, but we’re missing the conversation on Main Street—where patients are struggling to simply find the right doctor and make and keep appointments, amidst family and work obligations,” said Zocdoc founder and president Dr. Oliver Kharraz. “Instead of the empowered consumer that we’re used to, in the role of patient, many Americans are passively engaging with healthcare.”

A breadth of factors stands between patients and care:

Everyday life trumps healthcare: Overall, health and wellness are a struggle to manage for most Americans (61 percent)—who are less likely to struggle to stay on top of their personal finances, career goals, family obligations, friendships and social life, household responsibilities, beauty routines and even pets’ health. With so many priorities, it’s no wonder nearly 37 percent of people say they have held off booking a checkup because they don’t remember how long it’s been since their last doctor’s visit, or they have forgotten to make an appointment entirely.

Work is both a barrier and motivator: Work obligations are a major factor in healthcare decisions, and are the No. 1 reason people of the working world report having to cancel or reschedule a checkup. Nearly half of employed Americans (48%) have canceled an appointment due to work. On the other hand, being sick enough to miss work is the reason that finally motivates one-third (33%) of American workers to book an appointment with the doctor.

This call could not be completed as dialed: One in four (24%) Americans say it’s tough to reach a person when they call a doctor’s office and so would rather book online. Calling for an appointment can be so painful and counter-cultural that if patients are not successfully scheduled on the first call, 26 percent wait at least a few weeks to try making an appointment again, if they even attempt to or remember at all. This may be why 80 percent of Americans would be motivated to book a doctor’s appointment online because it is more convenient or they can do it at any time, even when the doctor’s office is closed.

“Our research raises questions about the needs of the modern patient and the state of personal healthcare management in a digital world,” said Kharraz. “Our job at Zocdoc is to remove barriers that get in the way of good care, starting with making the doctor-going experience simpler.”

Zocdoc’s free service makes the medical appointment-booking process simpler and faster. The typical Zocdoc patient sees a doctor within 24 hours, 18 times faster than the national average wait time. Users can find in-network neighborhood doctors, instantly book appointments online, see what other real patients have to say, get reminders for upcoming appointments and preventive check-ups, fill out their paperwork online, and more.

Zocdoc’s simplified center of care improves healthcare participation for more than just digitally-native Millennials, half (51%) of whom report visiting a doctor less than once per year. For time-strapped women and parents, there is a significant upside to a more seamless digital healthcare experience.

Women are dropping out more than men: Women are more likely to put off preventive care (82% vs. 78%). And if they are sick, nearly two-thirds of women (66%) would rather wait it out than make a doctor’s appointment right away, compared to just around half of men (52%) in the same situation. Women rely on their instincts and online resources more; nearly half (46%) are more inclined to self-diagnose and self-treat than find a doctor who can see them in short order when feeling unwell, compared to 39 percent of men.

Parents are caregivers to everyone but themselves: Parents show a similar rate of delaying or not scheduling checkups as Millennials; 91 percent report not doing it. Once those with kids do get on a doctor’s calendar, they are nearly three times more likely than non-parents to cancel or reschedule their visit. Yet they are quick to send friends and family members to the doctor. More than half (53%) of parents would recommend a same-day appointment for a loved one feeling unwell, but only 30 percent would make the same effort for themselves.

Find more about Zocdoc’s Healthcare Dropout Survey and view the infographic at blog.zocdoc.com/healthcaredropouts.

About the Study
The Zocdoc Healthcare Dropout Survey was conducted May 13 – 26, 2015 by Kelton Global among 2,183 nationally representative Americans ages 18 and over, using an e-mail invitation and an online survey. The margin of error for the entire sample is +/- 2.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level; the margin of error for any subgroups will be slightly higher.

About Zocdoc
Zocdoc is the tech company at the beginning of a better healthcare experience. Each month, millions of patients use Zocdoc to find in-network neighborhood doctors, instantly book appointments online, see what other real patients have to say, get reminders for upcoming appointments and preventive check-ups, fill out their paperwork online, and more. With a mission to give power to the patient, Zocdoc’s online marketplace delivers the accessible, seamless and simple experience patients expect and deserve. Zocdoc is free for patients and available across the United States via Zocdoc.com or free Zocdoc apps for iPhone and Android.

Media Contact
Amy Juaristi l amy.juaristi@zocdoc.com l 323.810.2504