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Deloitte Survey on Consumer Priorities in Health Care

By October 13, 2016Commentary

Today is the first of two days in a row of posts relating to surveys of consumers on health issues.  Today’s post covers a recent Deloitte survey on what matters most to health care consumers.  (Deloitte Survey)  The research began with a focus group to identify potentially important health-related interactions and then continued with a survey of over 1780 consumers on the importance of those interactions.  Four broad clusters of interactions were identified.  A cluster related personalization of interactions with providers scored as consumers’ highest priority.  Next, and also scoring fairly highly, was a set of interactions around economically rational coverage and care choices.  A significantly lower priority was assigned to interactions around the convenience of care and the lowest priority cluster related to use of digital tools to manage care.  Top specific priorities included doctors and other clinicians who spend time with the patient and don’t rush; doctors and clinicians who listen to the patient and show they care; doctors and other clinicians who clearly explain treatments and what the patient needs to do and clear, helpful information about diagnoses and conditions.  Hispanics and seniors scored particularly high on this set of interactions, and Hispanics were especially concerned about family interactions.  For most patients, health care is still clearly all about the personal interaction with the clinician.

At the other end of the spectrum, people just don’t give much priority to digital tools, mobile apps, etc.  None of these interactions ranked higher than 48th among all interaction priorities.  The ones that mattered most, but not much, were appointment scheduling, data sharing with providers, and web chat capability.  Partly the low scores for digital tools reflect lack of awareness and familiarity, but even Millenials, who have much higher use of such tools, valued them lowly.  In the second highest ranked cluster, particularly important interactions were having all doctors in-network and covered, knowing when a service may not be covered by the plan and having accurate cost information for a specific service at a hospital.  In general, concerns were expressed about medical billing and stability in insurance plan network composition and premiums from year-to-year.  And in the third-ranked cluster, related to convenience, low waiting times, ease of getting an appointment and assistance from customer service agents til a problem is resolved were the most important interactions.  It shouldn’t be surprising that the interactions are ranked as they are; most health care issues are emotionally charged for patients and the personal touch helps sooth those emotions.  Hard for a mobile app to do that.

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