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Connecting With The 5 Types of Cancer Patients

By July 31, 2017 No Comments

Today’s cancer patients have a wide range of options when choosing where they go for care. To attract and retain patients in this competitive landscape, you need to connect with what matters most to them. And that means understanding the different priorities of different patient types. A 2015 survey conducted by The Advisory Board Company’s Oncology Roundtable found that cancer patients tend to fall into five distinct categories, with some patients overlapping one or more groups.

This survey included over 600 cancer patients who’d been diagnosed within the last five years. The survey asked patients to consider two main questions. The first was about the most and least important factors they considered when deciding where to go for cancer care. The second asked them which services provided by cancer centers were the most and least valuable for them.



41% of respondents fall into this category. These patients are typically educated and fairly young. Researchers looked up oncologists and cancer centers online before making a decision about choosing a treatment provider. They care about accreditation, ranking, and reviews more than following a recommendation from their doctor.

This group places a high value on patient, family, and survivor support services. They also care more about extended hours of operation than other patient types. Things that they didn’t really care about include a single contact person to explain their care, a 24/7 help line, and having all their care in one building.


The 25% of respondents in this group rank “recommendation from my doctor” as the most important factor in choosing where they go for care. They also care about finding a doctor that specializes in their cancer. Patients in this group tend to be older and male.

When considering important services, Traditionalists look for a cancer center that’s going to help them understand what’s going on. They want a single point of contact to explain their care and look for a center that offers a help line they can call anytime. They typically rank financial counseling and complementary and alternative medicine as least important.


With shifting health care costs and increased access to information about treatment costs, 39% of respondents place a high emphasis on treatment cost. They’re also worried about finding a cancer center that their insurance work with. Other considerations play a very minimal role for this group.

Cost-Conscious patients don’t place a high emphasis on support services. They prefer to look for a clinic that offers financial counseling, free or discounted transportation, and extended hours of operation. They also prefer that all their care takes place in one location. This group mostly falls in the 55 to 64 age range and lives in the West.


Some patients, 36% of respondents, place a high value on recommendations from family and friends when choosing a care provider. They’re also more likely to consider their doctor’s recommendation. People in this group tend to be younger and live in the Midwest and South.

Networker patients care about survivor and family support services. If you can offer those services, you’ll stand a good chance of connecting with this type of patient. Features like an online portal for viewing results or a multidisciplinary care clinic aren’t likely to impress them.


8% of survey respondents switched cancer providers because they weren’t happy with the care they received. Most people in this category are younger, educated, have breast cancer, and/or live in the West. When looking for a provider, they pay attention to accreditation, patient support services, ranking, and availability of clinical trials.

Patients who have changed providers are more likely to trust a friend or family member’s recommendation than their doctor’s. They also care about finding a care center that offers complementary and alternative medicine, financial counseling, and extended hours of operation.