Optum survey shows consumer expectations for accessing care have transformed, calling for improvements in the ‘digital front door’ for providers and health plans
A growing number of health care consumers prefer more seamless digital experiences in scheduling and interacting with their health care provider and health plan, according to the results of a survey Optum announced today.
Many of these consumers, especially younger adults, are not satisfied with their current experience, the survey showed. These results highlight opportunities for providers and health plans to attract and retain consumers, patients and members by reducing friction in interactions with those seeking care.
Survey responses from more than 1,000 consumers explain how providers and payers can optimize consumer satisfaction by adapting their patient access strategies and tools such as the “digital front door” of online portals, websites and mobile applications.
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Consumers share care access preferences
Providers seeking to attract patients through access to care should focus on optimizing for location, hours, appointment availability and channels of care, according to the survey. Consumer expectations for these care access factors are not being fully met, the survey indicated.
For example, both providers and payers have an opportunity to become more competitive for patients and members by improving online scheduling. Currently, 74% of patients schedule their appointments over the phone or in person but 36% would prefer to schedule online with either their provider or health plan. This gap in expectations is even more acute for consumers ages 25 to 34: 45% prefer online scheduling but only 28% do so today.
The survey indicated other enhancements to websites, portals and mobile applications that could bolster patient and member acquisition and loyalty. Only 57% of respondents were satisfied with their ability to schedule telehealth appointments. When it came to finding information for a provider such as gender, race or licenses, only 58% were satisfied.
How to help avoid missed appointments
Since 52% of consumers missed a scheduled health care appointment in the past year, providers and payers should evaluate their appointment reminders for impact on the patient experience. One-third of consumers who missed their appointments said it was because they simply forgot, which was the reason given most frequently. Two years ago, the No. 1 reason was COVID-19.
“The pandemic has accelerated consumer interest in online scheduling, virtual visits and follow-up,” said Puneet Maheshwari, co-founder and CEO of DocASAP at Optum. “We see this trend increasing and creating more opportunities for providers and payers to make patient care access simple and convenient, which is not always the case today. At DocASAP, we are working to put the user at the center of their care through personalized digital solutions — now and long past the next wave post-pandemic.”
DocASAP, part of Optum, is a patient access and engagement platform for health systems, health plans and physician groups. These technology services empower organizations to navigate patients to the optimal provider and care setting at the right time throughout their access journey, helping improve outcomes, reduce costs and create a better patient experience.
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