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What Drives Consumer Loyalty to a Primary Care Physician?

Downstream referrals, care coordination, and disease management—success for many health system goals hangs on patients’ loyalty to their personal physicians. But with so many new care options—retail clinics, virtual visits, new physician practices—how can providers inspire devotion among their patients?

We asked nearly 2,000 consumers who had a primary care visit in the last 12 months to tell us what keeps them loyal to their current practice and what would "push" them away from their provider or "pull" them towards a new PCP. Here’s what our analysis revealed.


12 insights from the survey

PCP characteristics correlated with loyalty

1. Most patients aren’t loyal
2. A little trust, patience, and respect go a long way

Scenarios that “push” consumers to a new PCP

3. Stop blaming your competitor
4. Cost, not medical error, is top reason respondents would switch PCPs
5. Time to appointment is most important time
6. Patients value quality (not quantity) of time
7. Manners beat credentials
8. They trust strangers before friends and family

Scenarios that "pull" consumers to a competitor

9. Access and convenience are huge selling points
10. Co-locating services? Patients prefer specialty services or lab on site
11. Best hospital affiliation trumps good quality scores or recommendations
12. Customer service takes a back seat to provider continuity and credentials

About the survey

  • 1,843-consumer, nationwide conjoint survey

  • First section assesses attributes of current PCP and clinic (including access, service, quality, and reputation factors) as well as strength of current relationship (consumer likelihood to stay, follow, and recommend PCP)

  • Second section uses conjoint uses conjoint methodology to rank 48 scenarios according to the likelihood each would prompt a switch to a different PCP; scenarios describe both changes made by current PCP and attributes of a new competitor clinic

  • Regional and demographic cuts contrast loyalty factors of specific patient cohorts 

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