What do Healthcare Consumers Care about Most?
Deloitte's 2016 Consumer Priorities in Health Care Survey was recently released and it revealed some surprising opinions from healthcare consumers in regard to their healthcare. The numerous services from which to choose, and the complexity of those services, can result in what can be a crucial decision with potentially life-altering consequences. Learning how consumers want to interact, and what they expect to receive from their healthcare, is important for everyone.
The survey began with a focus group of randomly selected people to accurately represent the current consumer healthcare market. Questions were posed to these individuals about what specific products and services they found appealing. This served as the footing of the survey.
There were 1,787 respondents with 64 services to be examined. These were placed in a bracket format - similar to "March Madness", whereby study participants were asked to choose one over the other, and then moved to the next round based on a rating point system.
Healthcare Consumers Value the Physician Relationship
Not surprisingly, consumers' main priority was found to be the provider relationship. Results showed that participants value bedside manner and personalized experiences with their physicians. However, what is surprising is that they value this over both cost and accessibility.
Ranked second was "Doctors or other health care providers who spend time with me and do not rush". Coming in third and fourth were "Doctors or other health care providers who listen and show they care about me" and "Doctors or other health care providers who clearly explain what they are doing and what I need to do later."
These related interactions indicate clearly that the healthcare consumer values personalized health care from their doctors and that spending some extra time with them leads to better health outcomes.
Digital Engagement is Low
Another surprise from the survey is how low respondents emphasized the importance of digital tools; despite the focus providers - and society in general- have given them. Conveniences like scheduling appointments and reviewing bills electronically was ranked near the bottom of what consumers are looking for from their healthcare.
Based on a focus group Deloitte conducted prior to the survey to gauge opinions, the survey results indicate this is due to lack of awareness of the digital resources available to them and thus, ranked as unimportant.
What This Means for Healthcare Consumers Moving Forward
Healthcare needs to evolve to a more personalized platform for delivery, supporting the health of individuals, communities, and families. By making coordination of care a priority, and ensuring physicians have the time to sit and speak to their patients and answer any questions they may have - rather than the current norm of spending five to ten minutes with a patient, writing a prescription and moving on to the next - we can develop a healthcare system that better suits the needs of patients while improving quality of care.