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Stericycle Communication Solutions Survey Reinforces Need for Stronger Patient-Provider Relationships

New research sheds light on the current high and low points in the patient journey and barriers impacting patient access, action and adherence

Stericycle Communication Solutions, an industry leader in patient engagement technology and solutions and a service of Stericycle, Inc. (Nasdaq: SRCL), today announced the results of its second U.S. Consumer Trends in Patient Engagement Survey, conducted in the Summer of 2021, a pivotal moment in time when consumers, hospitals and health systems nationwide were optimistic about COVID-19 vaccines and a possible end to the pandemic. The survey aimed to understand how the evolving health crisis affected U.S. healthcare consumer behaviors and attitudes regarding their patient experience.

The survey examined provider communications, patient satisfaction and provider trust during the second year of the pandemic. Findings reinforced the need for health systems to foster stronger relationships between patients and providers through improved access to virtual and in-person care, regular communication across channels, and frictionless appointment scheduling. Findings were based on an online- and telephone-based survey of more than 500 consumers in 50 states representative of various household incomes, marital statuses, geographies and ages.

“The results of our second annual survey highlight how critical trust and strong provider-patient relationships are to a patient’s engagement and their overall health and well-being,” said Matt Dickson, senior vice president of Stericycle Communication Solutions. “As we round the corner on our second year of this global health crisis, the primary focus of health systems and hospitals should be to support providers and staff with appropriate communication channels and tools to re-engage with patients on a personal level and facilitate individualized, quality care that addresses issues of access and satisfaction.”

Key report findings show that:

Patients trust their health systems and providers to deliver health education and guidance

Patients trust their providers and invite communication from them. The vast majority (95%) of patients surveyed trust the information shared by their healthcare providers, which is predominantly done via digital channels. Of those surveyed who were not yet vaccinated for COVID-19, 29% said information from their healthcare provider about the vaccines would make them reconsider their vaccination decision, and 22% said they would reconsider getting vaccinated based on education from their provider about possible side effects.

Hybrid care adoption continues to grow

A combination of virtual and in-person care, as well as virtual and in-person waiting rooms, can help address patient needs surrounding safety, convenience and personal preferences. Of note, 53% of respondents indicated an increase in telehealth usage, saying they pursued more telehealth visits than in the previous 12 months. However, many patients returned to in-person care as well. Two-thirds (67%) reported attending an in-person visit with a healthcare provider in the past 12 months. Nearly two-thirds of the survey’s respondents (64%) still prefer virtual waiting rooms, down from 81% in the previous survey conducted in late 2020.

The right communication in the right channel at the right time drives action and adherence

This year’s findings indicated that communicating via the patient’s channel of preference may not induce action. Like the hybrid care model, effective patient communication requires a hybrid of virtual, digital and voice approaches to prompt patient engagement. For example, while email is the top communication preference in general for healthcare consumers (preferred by 33%), phone calls (preferred by 29%) prompt more patients to reschedule appointments, rather than emails or texts (preferred by 27%). When those appointments are scheduled, reminders are important for supporting follow-through, as 71% of patients said that multiple reminders helped them keep track of appointments, which is up 14% from last year. The majority of respondents (70%) indicated that two reminders were sufficient. For urgent and/or critical information, text messages should be considered, as 59% of respondents said they fully read their text messages compared to only 39% who fully read their emails.

Patient satisfaction is up, but frustrations remain

A large percentage (41%) of patients say they felt rushed during their visit, which is down from 54% last year, but still higher than pre-pandemic levels (19%). Most patients who reported receiving care in an emergency room (91%) were satisfied with their experience but 9% reported lack of communication about care steps, long wait times, and a rushed visit as the biggest factors impacting their experience. Scheduling also remains a point of friction in the patient journey with 38% of patients being either only somewhat satisfied or not satisfied at all with their experience. Long wait times were the highest reported reason for dissatisfaction (40%) along with a lack of available appointments (33%) and language barriers (19%).

To learn more about what the research findings mean for healthcare systems as they look to enhance patient trust and health outcomes, recoup lost revenue from the past year, attract new patients and assuage patient vaccination concerns, visit

About Stericycle Communication Solutions

Stericycle Communication Solutions is an industry leader in patient engagement solutions, providing online scheduling, automated messaging and strategic inbound and outbound call center services to drive patient access, action and adherence. Combining a human touch with innovative technologies, Stericycle Communication Solutions delivers best-in-class patient engagement solutions that help clients acquire and retain patients, achieve higher customer satisfaction rates, enhance their brands and grow revenue. For more information, visit

About Stericycle

Stericycle, Inc., (Nasdaq: SRCL) is a U.S. based business-to-business services company and leading provider of compliance-based solutions that protects people and brands, promotes health and well-being, and safeguards the environment. Stericycle serves customers in the U.S. and 16 countries with solutions for regulated waste and compliance services, secure information destruction and patient engagement. For more information about Stericycle, please visit

“The results of our second annual survey highlight how critical trust and strong provider-patient relationships are to a patient’s engagement and their overall health and well-being,” said Matt Dickson, Stericycle Communication Solutions.


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