The Patient Experience

Perspectives on Today’s Healthcare

To understand the current patient experience within the U.S. healthcare system and identify how PAs can help improve access to care and overall patient outcomes, AAPA commissioned The Harris Poll to conduct an independent public opinion survey.

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0% of adults

Wait more than a week for an appointment

0% of Latino adults

Have skipped or delayed healthcare in the past two years

0 hours

U.S. adults spend the equivalent of an entire workday each month coordinating care for themselves and/or their family or loved ones

Average Time Spent Coordinating Care (per week)

Latino Adults*

0.0 Hours

All BIPOC Adults

0.0 Hours

White Adults

0.0 Hours


What struck me from the research we conducted on behalf of AAPA is how clearly the findings demonstrate how the system itself is getting in the way of people being able to take care of themselves as well as the ones they love. The system is costly, confusing, and it takes too long to get needed care. The result is that people want to engage with it less which can lead to even more health problems – both physical and mental.
John Gerzema; Chief Executive Officer, The Harris Poll

Report Summary

The U.S. healthcare system is stretched thin – a reality both illuminated during and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to healthcare provider burnout and workforce shortages, inequalities in healthcare persist and simply navigating the system can be enigmatic.

Current assessments of healthcare in the U.S. are mostly negative: Few adults give the overall U.S. healthcare system an A grade, and more grade it below average (i.e., a D or F grade).

In fact, many adults say the healthcare system fails to meet their needs in some way – for example, taking too long to get an appointment or straining family finances.

The AAPA-Harris Poll survey, drawn from a nationally representative sample of more than 2,500 U.S. adults, explores the varied and vast experiences of patients struggling to access needed healthcare. The report provides an in-depth analysis of the driving forces that inhibit healthcare access and delay care.

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Top Reasons for Skipping or Delaying Healthcare in the Past Two Years

  • Worry about cost to me/my family
  • Inability to take time away from other responsibilities
  • Not feeling I am really experiencing a major health issue
  • Takes too long to get an appointment

Overwhelming and Time-Consuming: The Patient Experience

For the American population, coordinating and managing healthcare is overwhelming and time-consuming. Not only are U.S. adults spending on average one working day per month coordinating care for themselves or their loved ones, but nearly 3 in 4 (73%) U.S. adults report that in one way or another the healthcare system is failing to meeting their needs. The cost of care and time spent waiting for appointments are the most common factors contributing to patient dissatisfaction with the system.


Say coordinating and managing healthcare is overwhelming and time-consuming

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Patient-Provider Interactions


Agree they wish healthcare providers took more time to understand them

Really understanding, getting to know the patient, and caring for them on a personal level. Wanting the best of the patient, [and] building that relationship and that level of trust with the patient.
Man, age 35-44 (describing what a good healthcare provider means)


Say there are times when they are afraid to speak up during healthcare appointments

PAs are committed patient advocates, and to be a voice for patients, we must first understand the barriers patients face, how that is impacting their day-to-day life, and the long-term effects on both individuals and the healthcare system at large.
AAPA CEO Lisa M. Gables, CPA

A Closer Look at the Patient Experience in 18 States

In follow-up to the national survey, The Harris Poll conducted additional research in 18 states. Collectively, the states form a diverse cross-section of the American healthcare landscape. The surveys capture a wide range of healthcare experiences, from urban to rural settings and diverse patient pools, reflecting the challenges and strengths within different regions of the country. Further, these 18 states represent varied PA regulatory environments, providing a more nuanced understanding of healthcare dynamics and highlighting the importance of PA practice laws in shaping patient care.

Top U.S. Health Concerns: The Patient Expereince

When conducting the national survey, The Harris Poll collected research focusing on the experience of patients with diabetes, obesity, and cancer to capture the issues patients with these conditions are encountering within today’s system.

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