Here is the latest in the hype storm that is digital health. A survey from Accenture on how it will remake the world of health care. (Accenture Survey) This is largely due to younger consumers, who are supposedly dissatisfied with the “status quo” and more accepting of non-traditional delivery methods. Oh, and they are such big users of health care; what was that stat I read just the other day, oh, 40% of them get no, nada, nil, zero, zilch health care in a year. Yep, they’ll really change the spending curve. Most of this report is just telling us what we already know. Young consumers are least likely to have a primary care physician, with only 55% of those under 21 and 67% of those under 40 saying they have one, compared to 85% of older persons. The obvious explanation, is that number above–if you don’t need health care, why would you worry about having a primary care doctor. Younger age groups also express more dissatisfaction about aspects of health care delivery, but even then levels of dissatisfaction rarely rise above 20%. Items asked about include convenience of appointment times, convenience of location, cost transparency, wait times, responsiveness to phone or email inquiries and the effectiveness of treatment. Sounds like an impatient group of people; what else are you doing that is so important–watching reality TV, going to the local micro-brew, checking out the latest YouTube video?
Now here is something slightly useful; the top factors for selecting where to seek medical care. 39% say a place that accepts their insurance; 24% say it has a low out-of-pocket cost, 23% say a convenient location and 16% say a reputation for better quality. What is important to a feeling of satisfaction? Age groups are pretty close on this. Over 70% say the cost and coverage by insurance; about 70% say transparency regarding care, what services and why; 65% say transparency on cost, they know the amount beforehand; around 60% say convenience of the appointment time and wait time and around 60% say responsiveness to follow-up questions. Levels of satisfaction are similar across traditional and non-traditional care channels, including on convenience and wait time. So wait, I thought the whole point was that people aren’t happy with traditional channels. Compared to earlier surveys, more consumers expect to have some digital capabilities, like receiving reminders, communicating with the provider, booking or changing appointments, or using remote monitoring devices. Younger people prefer to find providers that have more of these capabilities. So, yeah, it may be important for providers to cater to younger people by having and using digital functionality, but all the evidence so far suggests it isn’t going to improve quality or reduce spending.