It’s difficult to quantify exactly what a perfect healthcare consumer experience looks like. That’s why most coverage of rising patient expectations involves pointing out differences between broken care experiences and Amazon Prime, and why it’s worth taking a closer look when a company like Optum puts out an in-depth report on the topic.
Optum surveyed over 1,000 consumers to explore how payors and providers can adapt their digital on-ramps to healthcare (online portals, websites, mobile apps) to optimize for patient satisfaction.
Highlights from the report centered around the expectation vs. reality gaps for these digital front doors, with the largest rifts found between: finding information about providers (i.e. ethnicity, gender, and licenses), ability to schedule an appointment online, and booking telehealth visits.
- Scheduling disconnects were most acute for consumers ages 25 to 34, with 45% preferring online scheduling, but only 28% doing so today.
- Text messaging is now the preferred patient-provider communication channel across almost all age groups, and nearly two-thirds of 25-34 year olds want text-based follow-ups.
- The cross-generational divide for engagement preferences has shrunk, with 44% of 55-64 year olds preferring text messages for post-appointment provider communication – just a few percentage points behind phone calls (47%) and email (49%).
- 52% of respondents missed a scheduled appointment in the past year, suggesting that there’s plenty of room for payors and providers to improve engagement. The most cited reason for missing an appointment was that they simply forgot (33%).
The consumerization of care has been one of the biggest themes of digital health for years, and the past few weeks were no exception. Although the core idea is no longer a surprise, Optum did a great job wrapping numbers around areas where healthcare experiences are falling short, and drove home the point that removing friction for those seeking care is one of the best ways to attract and retain new patients.