Consumers want more digital access in healthcare
As I write this, the way we communicate with each other personally, professionally, and in healthcare, is changing rapidly.
In our recent “What’s Reasonable” Study of more than 400 American consumers, more than half of our respondents said they own a smartphone, which is comparable to the percentage cited in a recent Pew Research Center poll.
The adoption of “smart” devices extends across the generations. There is higher adoption in Generations X and Y (as I would expect), but there is also a significant amount of usage among Baby Boomers (42%) and Seniors (20%). Mobile communication gives us the ability to get a hold of family, friends, and, in some cases, healthcare providers, right now, on our own terms, from wherever we are. No wonder it’s so popular.
Are consumers ready to interact with healthcare using mobile devices? One way to assess that is to see what consumers are ALREADY doing online in other parts of their lives. Do they use the Internet for banking and online bill pay? Making travel arrangements? In our study, 8 out of 10 people say they go online to manage their finances; almost 60% say they make their travel arrangements online. So the answer is clearly “yes.” This shows that consumers are willing to entrust their personal and financial information to brands they trust, for services they value.
A “self-serve” behavior outside of healthcare activities has also translated into consumers’ inclination to seek information about healthcare, particularly around the quality and cost of healthcare. Almost half of our respondents are already going online to look up information about a doctor and one in four has used the Internet to try and find the cost of a medical procedure. Rather than rely on someone else to give them healthcare information, or simply do what they’re told to do, patients are taking charge. And using the Internet to do so.
Our study confirms that healthcare consumers are starting to act like retail customers, rather than passive recipients of technical services they don’t understand and don’t have to pay for.
In my next blog, we’ll look at whether consumers are willing to pay, out of their pockets, for digital access and assistance. And which kinds of digital access are most important, right now, to consumers across the age spectrum.
In the meantime, if you’d like to view our 2014 “What’s Reasonable?” webinar focusing on patient expectations of online versus conventional access to providers, you can download the PowerPoint deck from the presentation here or download the full audio/visual recording here.