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3 surprising trends about your patients' co-location preferences

December 5, 2017

    Planners often view co-location, or placing multiple specialties at the same care site, as a strategy to build volumes and grow market share. However, delivering on these aims requires that you can actually attract patients that value co-location—and not all patient populations care about co-location equally. 

    We recently analyzed responses from 4,000 consumers to learn what they care about most when seeking primary care services. While most patient cohorts ranked co-location attributes—including on-site pharmacy access and imaging—as bigger priorities than other clinic attributes, we found that men, Medicaid patients, and young patients ranked co-location more highly compared to other cohorts.

    Knowing that these patient populations care about co-location the most can guide your marketing efforts. Plus, you can identify where co-location should be deprioritized after other patient satisfiers, such as price transparency and extended hours. Read on to learn more about these patient populations—and how best to reach them.

    1. Men prefer co-located services more than women do

    Male survey respondents ranked co-location attributes higher than women did. This was true for co-located ancillary services for primary care, co-located specialty services, and comprehensive family care. Co-located services are especially appealing to men because they tend to value access and convenience, according to our survey. Layering virtual care options can also help attract men to your primary care clinics.

    Understanding this patient preference is important because men represent a largely untapped market: They make up nearly 50% of the total population, but spend approximately 25% less—over $1,000 per person less—on health care annually than women.

    However, don't leave women out of the equation. Co-location still ranks highly among women's preferred care attributes. Plus, in heterosexual relationships, women tend to be the "Chief Medical Officer" of the pair and take charge of the couple's health. A recent survey by the American Academy of Family Physicians found that 80% of men say their significant others influence their health care decisions.

    Men's Health Programs: A Primer

    2. Younger patients prefer co-location more than older patients do

    Our survey found that young people (ages 18-29) preferred co-location the most among different age groups, followed by respondents aged 30-49. As millennials begin making more care decisions, building loyalty among this patient group will be crucial for maintaining health systems' growth goals.

    So what's the best way to promote co-location to this demographic? Overall, our survey results showed that millennials valued affordability and convenience most when seeking health care. Co-location meets millennials' convenience mandate, and it can be even more effective when accompanied by affordable prices or price transparency.

    3. Medicaid patients prefer co-location more than Medicare and privately-insured patients do

    Medicaid patients preferred co-location of ancillary primary care services, specialty services, and comprehensive family care more than private insurance and Medicare populations did. Interestingly, Medicare patients preferred it the least of the three cohorts. For organizations with large Medicaid populations, co-location can serve as a strong patient satisfier. At the same time, co-location can drive cost efficiencies by reducing duplication of purchases and flexing technology and staff across services.


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