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Why value-based care challenges providers, payers to offer retail-like experience

Consumers are driven to expect better healthcare information and technology in part because they are required to pay more out of pocket.

Bernie Monegain, Editor, Healthcare IT News

Consumer engagement is top of mind for health plans and providers as they seek to involve healthcare consumers in their own healthcare in a value-based care environment.

A new study commissioned by healthcare technology company Change Healthcare and conducted by ORC International researchers shows investment in consumer engagement is a top priority for 80 percent of payers and 72 percent of providers surveyed. Value-based care is the leading driver. Competitive pressures and consumer demand for a more retail-like experience are also factors.

[Also: Know these 5 principles of value-based care, because it's here to stay]

The survey found that payers and providers are channeling about one quarter to one-third of healthcare IT investment dollars to consumer engagement. However, 72 percent of the consumers polled indicated their experience with providers and health plans has not improved – and some indicated it has worsened over the last two years. Just 21 percent reported an improved experience. 

Consumers are driven to expect more and better healthcare information because they are required more out of pocket.

[Also: Leading the way: Children's hospitals believe in value-based future]

While the survey shows payers and providers are investing about one quarter to one third to engage consumers, 72 percent of the consumers polled said their experience with providers and health plans has not improved – or has worsened – over the last two years. Only about 21 percent of those consumers reported an improved experience. 

Moreover, consumer engagement is hampered by a "millennial gap" that shows older patients aren't getting the attention they need to benefit from consumerization strategies, according to survey responses.

Perhaps the most important takeaway, say OCR International researchers, is that technology investment is just a first step. Payers and providers have an opportunity to do more to get consumers to engage with their technologies. 

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"While the data shows they are having success with some of these investments, consumer response illustrates that there is an incredibly greater amount of success to be realized," researchers conclude. "There remains a huge 'last mile' gap to be closed. And it can be closed if providers and payers would tailor experiences to what consumers want, promote adoption of services and technologies, and solicit feedback."

ORC surveyed 251 providers and 89 payers. Among providers surveyed, 46 percent were C-level executives, 37 percent were directors, 14 percent were VPs, and 3 percent were senior managers. They represent a wide range of departments and disciplines, many in the C-Suite and operations areas and fewer – less than 10 percent each – working in revenue cycle management, strategy, patient experience, patient access, marketing and IT.

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
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