What's important to the average healthcare consumer in 2018? Affordable prices for quality care? Convenient access to services? Healthcare IT tools to enhance the patient experience? Keep reading for an overview of the latest reports and studies that show what the average healthcare consumer wants in 2018.
Today’s Healthcare Consumer Cites Rising Costs as a Primary Concern
A recent study by the Consumers for Quality Care (CQC), a patient advocacy group, digs deeper to find out what consumers want from medical services in 2018. Eighty-five percent of healthcare consumers were most concerned with the increasing patient financial responsibility coupled with rising healthcare costs.
Healthcare delivery in the United States is the most expensive in the entire world according to statistics from The Commonwealth Fund. Not only does the American healthcare system come with the heftiest price tag — residents in the U.S. utilize more services in comparison to most nations. In fact, the CDC reports that nearly half of all Americans took at least one prescription drug in the last 30 days.
As evidenced by these findings, the country has become heavily medicated and the healthcare expenses have frightfully increased by large percentages, notably during the last five years. Developing a cost-effective value-based care model is now more important than ever and legislatures and healthcare executives continue implementing new strategies to achieve this goal.
Alarming Numbers of Patients Forgo Care Rather than Pay Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Covering the cost of healthcare has now become predominantly the responsibility of the patient, more so than ever before in history. Considering this obligation and the fact that healthcare services are at their highest prices, it may come as no surprise that the New York Times reports patients would rather forgo recommended care than to pay the out-of-pocket costs.
A survey conducted by the West Health Institute and Norco at the University of Chicago found that Baby Boomers and Generation Xers skipped recommended treatments at alarming rates. They released these findings at the American Society of Aging’s 2018 Aging in America conference, in addition to the following statistics:
Results from the 45 to 59 age group:
- 49 percent did not visit a healthcare provider in 2017 when they suffered an injury or illness
- 45 percent skipped a recommended treatment or medical test
- 43 percent did not visit a dentist when they needed dental care
- 40 percent did not receive preventative healthcare or a routine physical
- 30 percent took less than their prescribed medication or did not fill a prescription altogether
Results from people aged 60+:
- 30 percent did not visit a dentist when they needed treatment
- 27 percent did not receive preventative healthcare or a routine physical
- 25 percent took less than a prescribed dose of medicine or did not fill a prescription
- 25 percent skipped a treatment or a recommended medical test
- 24 percent did not visit a physician when they were sick or injured
Millennials Want to Connect to Providers in More Meaningful Ways
Consumer healthcare needs are becoming quite complex among the millennial generation. As consumers move through a more digitized and modern marketplace, expectations for enhanced healthcare journeys increase.
Assistant Vice President of patient experience at WellStar Health System, Pat McNulty-Collins, stated: “We’re not really talking about patient experience any more — we’re talking about consumer experience.”
On-demand access to healthcare IT (HIT) tools is an expectation prevalent among the millennial generation. Many millennials don’t feel they need face-to-face human interaction for retail purchases, booking flights, etc. so why would the healthcare services they purchase be any different?
In order to meet this demand, providers are creating more efficient and meaningful interactions through the use of smart technology. Sara Vaezy, Chief Digital Strategy Officer at Providence St. Joseph Health explains that “not everyone wants or needs a relationship with a primary care physician.” However, it’s not that communication and feedback are not important to millennials — as these factors are expected, even demanded by this generation. Rather, millennials prefer receiving this information in a text message or other digital format.
Can Healthcare IT Tools and Telehealth Services Improve Access to Care and Health Data?
Released on Wednesday August 29, the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions released the results of their biennial survey of US healthcare consumers. Data collected in this virtual healthcare consumer survey showed that 64 percent of healthcare consumers are ready and had positive perceptions of the increased implementation and use of virtual care.
What all began with the mandatory implementation of electronic health records (EHR) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) paved the way for the widespread introduction of new healthcare IT tools that improve access to and quality of care - while reducing healthcare costs. Amidst the newest wave of technology used in our modern healthcare system is the inclusion of remote patient monitoring, notably via telehealth services.
Digital health company Validic and the eHealth Institute (eHI) released the report, “The Return on Investment of Patient-Generated Health Data & Remote Patient Monitoring,” that concluded patient data collected from the home setting provides more value than that obtained during routine hospital or office visits. Suggested in the report is that even though most healthcare providers have yet to implement telehealth, soon, remote patient monitoring will become a standard of care.
In a press release about the report, eHI CEO Jennifer Covich Bordenick explained that “the idea of using data from wearables and remote monitoring devices to improve care is no longer just wishful thinking,” she continued to elaborate that “this report shares actual examples of how providers are improving access to care through remote patient monitoring and saving money.”
Patient-generated health data (PGHD) is only valuable when used meaningfully. The eHI report summarizes how PGHD can meet consumer health needs and improve outcomes:
“The use of PGHD presents an opportunity for providers to gain deeper insights in real-time about their patients, offering the ability for quicker response to health issues, and ultimately, better outcomes and lower costs. However, this data is oftentimes unreachable within the clinical workflow. For PGHD to reach its true potential, actionable information gleaned from the data must be presented via an interface that allows both patients and providers to easily share, view, and act upon the insights.”
Telehealth and remote patient monitoring are not the only new HIT tools embraced by patients that provide convenience and efficiency. Physicians’ offices and hospitals are implementing more effective systems suited to do many things, such as:
- Capture and share clinical data and patient health information
- Provide more convenient methods for patients to request prescription refills
- Allow patients to talk to a nurse
- View and print health information
- Appointment scheduling
- Share results from diagnostic testing on HIPAA-compliant platforms
- Communicate with providers via secure chat applications
- Engage patients in a way that has never been possible, allowing them to assume a more involved and active role in their healthcare plan