Fatherly IQ: Survey Shows Modern Families Still Prefer Old-Fashioned Healthcare

When it comes to taking care of kids' health, most parents still rely on doctor, pharmacies, and recommendations that are close to home.

by Neel Patel
Originally Published: 

Technology has opened up a treasure trove (or is it a Pandora’s box?) of choices when it comes to making healthcare decisions for kids. With worlds of information and ways to connect to physicians, pharmacies, and insurance resources at the palm of our hands, family health has moved far beyond the confines of ferrying sick tykes to the doctor’s office to get a diagnosis for what ails them.

In an effort to better understand the attitudes of parents facing a changing healthcare landscape, Fatherly surveyed 1000 dads from around the country. The results illustrate the traditions die hard. Most parents in the survey, regardless of age, said they take sick kids straight to the doctor to diagnose and treat them, they choose those doctors mostly from recommendations by friends and family, and get prescriptions at the pharmacy that is closest to home. So much for Web-based diagnostics and medicine-by-mail. Here’s what we learned about the healthcare preferences of parents in 2019.

Parents Prefer Doctors Recommended by Friends and Family

In a multiple choice question for how fathers chose family doctor or pediatrician, a little over half of the respondents said they used recommendations from friends or family — the most selected responses. However, of the 46.7 percent of fathers who online apps like Zocdoc or online reviews as part of their selection criteria, 41.62 percent were between the ages of 25 and 34, and other 28.90 percent were between 35 and 44. Younger parents increasingly seem to put more stock in the ability of new apps to provide expert recommendations for doctors.

Doctors Still Are the Top Diagnostic Source for Parents

Across all generations, doctors are still held in the highest regard when it comes to reliable information about health. If the kid is sick, the first thing most parents will do (61.50 percent) is call the family doctor or pediatrician. And to learn more about a child’s illnesses, the majority of parents will defer most to the physical for more information.

But of the 16.10 percent of dads that will choose instead to look up symptoms on an app or the internet first, almost 70 percent are under 44. And 54.40 percent of respondents said they’d still turn to online health resources like WebMD or Mayo Clinic to learn more about the illnesses as well, including over half of all dads under 44.

Young Fathers Are Forgoing Flu Shots

Nearly 16 percent of dads who took the survey don’t get their kids flu shots, and 41.51 percent of those dads are under the age of 34. The bigger picture is a bit brighter: The vast majority of parents are keeping their kids vaccinated from the flu every year. And annual vaccinations for children are as high as 95.7 percent.

Pharmacy Choice Is All About Location

A whopping 95.7 percent of respondents mark location as part of their decision-making process when choosing a pharmacy. Pricing was only a factor for 21.80 percent. And even though technology is making it easier to order medications through the mail, only 3 percent of respondents do so (a third of those respondents were over the age of 54).

Costs Matter Most When Choosing Insurance

Insurances prices are a looming concern for many people, and something you read about regularly in the media, but only a little over half of all respondents say the biggest factors in choosing insurance are cost-related — including premiums, deductibles, copays, prescription costs, and out-of-pocket costs. Lower- and middle-income families consider these to be larger concerns, but almost 30 percent of all respondents say the biggest factor in choosing insurance actually comes to the type of plan and provider network they’ll have access to.

The Low-Tech Takeaway

Overall, an influx in new technologies hasn’t created many significant changes in the way parents are managing their kids’ healthcare. The potentials of the Internet and new devices to transform healthcare are still very much in play, but for the time being, it seems that faith is placed in doctors that have been in the family for generations, pharmacies that are convenient, and insurance that saves the most money.

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