What You Should Know:
– 8 in 10 consumers said COVID-19 made telehealth “an indispensable part of the healthcare system, according to a new study commissioned by Change Healthcare.
– 2020 Change Healthcare – Harris Poll Consumer Experience Index reveals 65% said they plan to use telehealth more after the pandemic, and 78% said COVID-19 has shown how badly the U.S. needs more telehealth options.
A majority of consumers agreed COVID-19 will fundamentally change healthcare delivery (81%), with most believing the pandemic will speed digital adoption, according to a new study commissioned by Change Healthcare. Eight in 10 said COVID-19 made telehealth “an indispensable part of the healthcare system,” 65% said they plan to use telehealth more after the pandemic, and 78% said COVID-19 has shown how badly the U.S. needs more telehealth options.
These findings and more are detailed in the 2020 Change Healthcare – Harris Poll Consumer Experience Index, a national study of 1,945 consumers conducted by The Harris Poll and commissioned by Change Healthcare. Researchers asked consumers to rate the ease or difficulty required to find, access, and pay for care across 29 tasks, using an index of 1 to 200, with 200 being the “hardest” effort, 1 being “effortless,” and anything above 100 being “difficult.” The result: Not one healthcare activity was described by consumers as effortless. Rather, consumers ranked the difficulty of dealing with the healthcare system as high as 149, and the average across all tasks at 117. More than two-thirds of consumers said every step of the healthcare process is a chore, most said they don’t know how much a treatment or visit costs until months later, and nearly all said they want shopping for healthcare to be as easy as shopping for other common services—including making it a fully connected digital experience.
The study, conducted among 1,945 U.S. adults in May 2020, explored consumer effort throughout the journey of finding, accessing, and paying for healthcare. The Harris Poll combined all tactical-level attributes of the journey into a single summary statistic (the Change Healthcare – Harris Poll Consumer Experience Index) that can serve as a performance benchmark for healthcare year over year. A reading above 100 indicates the task is generally difficult for consumers, while a score below 100 indicates it is relatively easy. The distance from 100 indicates the level of difficulty or ease.
The research segments respondents and insights into six enrollee groups: those with Medicare Advantage plans, high-deductible employer-sponsored health plans, other employer-sponsored plans, individual plans, Medicaid plans, and uninsured. Some of the research’s other findings include:
– Consumers want accurate cost estimates from payers, and price transparency from providers. More than half (53%) said they avoided care because they weren’t sure what it would cost, 6 in 10 have gone to an appointment without knowing if they could afford it, 68% reported they don’t know how much a treatment or appointment will cost until months later, and an overwhelming 85% said it should be as easy to compare prices for healthcare as it is for other consumer services.
– A majority of consumers (62%) said the healthcare system feels like it’s designed to be confusing, 61% reported their bills feel more complex than a mortgage payment, and two-thirds said they are asked to manage so many care-related tasks that they “feel like a general contractor” when it comes to addressing their healthcare needs.
– One chief request is for a simple, transparent Explanation of Benefits (EOB)/explanation of charges. Only 1 in 3 consumers said their provider and health plan communicate too much. The vast majority said they want their health plan (71%) and provider (68%) to communicate using more modern platforms.
– Consumers overwhelmingly are seeking a retail-like e-commerce experience when it comes to shopping for care: 81% said shopping for healthcare should be as easy as shopping for other common services, 76% said they wish there was a single place they could shop for and buy healthcare, and 67% said they want to shop for healthcare entirely online.
“The majority of consumers said their healthcare experience is a struggle that’s taxing and burdensome, as illustrated through the difficulty they expressed at every phase of finding, accessing, and paying for care,” said Abbey Lunney, director at The Harris Poll. “In an e-commerce world, consumers want the experience of shopping for healthcare to be simple and streamlined. And this has never been more important, as digital healthcare reaches a tipping point amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The 2020 Change Healthcare – Harris Poll Consumer Experience Index is available for download at https://www.changehealthcare.com/consumer-experience-research.