Healthcare consumers increasingly favor digital channels of communication with their providers and insurance plans, but the convenience of digital interactions has not lessened the expectation that caregivers demonstrate an understanding of them as an individual, beyond basic patient data, across a healthcare journey.
An expectation for seamless, personalized experiences across digital and physical channels is a main takeaway from a new Dynata survey, commissioned by Redpoint, that explored consumer perspectives on care access.
More than half (57 percent) of respondents reported that they have used digital tools to engage with healthcare providers and insurers more than in previous years, and half (50 percent) said that they believe using digital tools (e.g., prescription reminders via app, personalized health recommendations based on medical history, etc.) can help them take better care of their health. Even with a transition to digital, 62 percent of consumers said that they expect online communications to match the in-person experiences they receive (in terms of relevance, consistency and outcomes).
Bolstering the viewpoint that consistency and relevance are top of mind for consumers, survey respondents listed “complex or confusing experiences” (such as a provider’s digital tools being hard to understand or use) as the No. 1 reason they would consider changing healthcare providers. Furthermore, an inconsistent experience across channels and a lack of personalized engagements with a provider came in as the No. 2 and No. 3 reasons, respectively.
Rounding out the top five were slow responses or a difficulty in engaging with a provider (No. 4) and a lack of understanding that where a patient lives or their financial situation might influence the care they need (No. 5), which demonstrates the importance of including social determinants of health in the knowledge a caregiver has about a patient.
Survey respondents listed “complex or confusing experiences” (such as a provider’s digital tools being hard to understand or use) as the No. 1 reason they would consider changing healthcare providers.
Interestingly, nearly half of Gen Z consumers (45 percent) said they want non-medical information to become a part of the health care assessment and management process (social determinants of health, behavioral, economic factors, etc.) if their inclusion resulted in more personalized and comprehensive healthcare experience. This is more than double Baby Boomers (17 percent) and Gen X (21 percent), showing that having a full understanding of a patient, beyond basic health data, will matter more as the population ages.
Taking the Temperature on Relevant Communications
Showing an overall need for improvement in providing relevant communications, just 45 percent of respondents said that proactive communications from providers feel completely relevant to them. Examples of proactive communications cited included wellness tips, seasonal health recommendations and reminders for preventive screenings. Providers, however, are doing a better job than insurance plans (25 percent) pharmaceutical companies (19 percent) and retail pharmacies (28 percent) on the same metric (providing proactive communications that feel completely relevant).
One reason providers rank ahead of insurers and pharmaceutical companies in providing completely relevant communications could be that healthcare consumers still value the in-person visit. Asked about methods of interaction, half of respondents (50 percent) said that they engage with their provider in person most of the time (vs. online portal, mobile app, website, phone, SMS or chatbot options). Yet 34 percent of respondents said they engage most of the time through an online portal, and 27 percent cited the mobile app as the preferred method of communication.
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