The U.S. health sector appears to be at the edge of digital reinvention, according to the 2019 US NextWave Health Survey released by EY today.
Driven by pressure to improve outcomes and reduce costs through the introduction of new technologies that take advantage of ubiquitous connectivity, the survey of 2,428 consumers and 158 physicians found that both groups are keen to embrace new technologies that improve engagement.
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Most physicians surveyed, 68 percent, believe they are prepared to provide quality care in the midst of a changing industry. Many are using available health technologies, such as secure messaging (62 percent), patient portals (60 percent) and clinical decision support (44 percent). As physicians continue to expand their digital investments, they must take into account the largest motivators for consumer adoption: increased cost savings (59 percent) and reduced wait times (52 percent).
Consumers are also interested in technologies that will help them manage their health and engage with physicians. Sixty-eight percent of surveyed consumers want to make an appointment online, and 54 percent would like to communicate electronically with their doctor.
Interestingly, when asked whether they currently use these technologies, consumer responses were relatively low. Thirty-one percent indicate they currently make appointments online, 26 percent complete registration forms online, and 30 percent pay for healthcare expenses online. This disconnect between the desire for particular forms of engagement and actual use indicates that consumers want to be supported by the tools that provide a convenient, holistic user experience.
When asked about the overall performance of the health system, consumers are generally divided. Thirty-nine percent view the overall performance as positive, while 41 percent view the performance as poor. Results also show younger generations (49 percent) are more critical toward their health and the health system than older consumers (28 percent).
The U.S. healthcare system has more detractors when compared with the previously released NextWave results from England, the Netherlands and Australia. According to the survey, the fact that the U.S. report reveals such a difference is likely driven by perceived affordability issues within the system. This is supported by the survey data: the cost of premiums ranks as the single most important factor when selecting an insurance plan (40 percent) for U.S. consumers.
WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW
Consumers are increasingly open to sharing their medical data with physicians (82 percent). Although privacy remains a concern, many view health-related technology as attractive solutions for improving health and wellness (42 percent) and accessibility to comprehensive, individual health information (39 percent).
But there are limits to the types of data and to whom consumers will share their data. While consumers are generally open about sharing data with physicians, they are more hesitant about sharing information with payers (44 percent), employers (18 percent) and online retailers (10 percent).
New findings from NRC Health and CHRISTUS Health this year show convenience is now the No. 1 factor that influences which provider a consumer will select for their care.
Traditionally, factors such as referrals and insurance coverage were the main selection criteria for patients. No more. While those factors are still very important, the patient of the modern age wants care when they want it and how they want it -- and they're not shy about shopping around.