Actionable information draws consumers

Consumers want information that's personalized and useful to their specific health problem, according to a recent healthcare consumer study from Deloitte.

"That's why getting information from their physician and the nurse are used more than others," says Paul Keckley, PhD, executive director, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. "But the findings also point to their willingness to look beyond doctors and nurses for information-and by large numbers, willingness to use online tools to know more about treatment options and prices."

"Opportunities for Health Plans in a Consumer-Driven Market," based on Deloitte's 2008 survey of healthcare consumers, showed that despite the sometimes reported distrust about plans, consumers are willing to use tools offered through their plan.

Nita Stella, senior vice president, product development, ActiveHealth Management, agrees. Health plans have valuable member data and offer products and tools that share the data in the form of EOBs, claims summaries, etc. The data tends to be unintelligible to a consumer, however, she says.

"What is important is to provide tools that translate this very complex set of information into usable information for a member, and more importantly, analyze this data with recommendations and/or suggestions on actions a user can take that are specific to their unique, individual health needs," she says.

The findings throughout the study suggest two important attributes about the desirable information consumers are seeking.

"Consumers want information that's personalized in teachable moments when they want/need to make decisions, and they want it through a convenient, trusted and easy-to-use source," Keckley says. "They want simple, actionable information that can be digested quickly, and they decry complicated information-retrieval processes that require too many links and too much hassle."

-Tracey Walker

Commentary is independent of source data.