Consumers Will Switch Providers Over Poor Digital Experiences

October 10, 2019
MHE Staff
MHE Staff

Younger healthcare consumers are more frustrated, more likely to stop seeing providers, and will write negative reviews based on bad digital experiences.

More than half of healthcare consumers are frustrated over their provider’s lack of digital experiences, according to a new study.

The 2019 United States Healthcare Consumer Experience Study, from Cedar, a patient payment and engagement platform, conducted in-depth interviews of more than 1,600 healthcare consumers, also found many customers are willing to abandon their providers over poor digital experience, although the provider-patient relationship is often considered the hardest to break.

According to the press release from Cedar, approximately 41% of consumers revealed they would stop going to their healthcare provider over a poor digital experience. These poor experiences include online bill pay, digital pre-appointment forms, mobile, email bill delivery and more.

More notably, about one in five have already stopped or switched providers over a poor digital experience.

Related:Five Ways to Improve Patient Self-Pay

The issue is much more pronounced for younger generations.

For example, respondents ages 18 to 24 years are three times as likely to consider switching providers over a poor digital experience compared to the over-65 population. However, they are four times as likely to have already abandoned a provider over a poor digital experience.

The study also found that digital experiences can be a big reason why consumers write negative online reviews of providers, with those reviews being highly influential. 

According to the study, approximately one-in-five of the respondents have given a negative review of a provider because of a poor digital experience. In addition, 52% consult online review sites when choosing a provider; 44% of these people cite the reviews a top influencing factor in their decision.

“Similar to the scenarios that have played out in other industries like e-commerce, healthcare providers are now being judged by the digital experience they provide their patients,” Florian Otto, founder and CEO of Cedar, said.

“While technology has rapidly innovated how we treat patients on the clinical side, administrative processes have yet to catch up. Modern consumers - armed with new levels of data, treatment options and heightened expectations - now demand more and the industry must rise to the challenge.” 

Pains of healthcare billing

The study found that one-in-three Americans think providers can do more to improve the patient billing and payment process, as provider billing issues are often the reason why patients don’t pay medical bills.

The Cedar study also found that one-third, or 34%, of U.S. healthcare consumers have had a healthcare bill go to collections, representing a slight increase from a 2018 Consumer Reports study.

The problem is worse for younger consumers, the study said.

Those ages 18 to 44 years are nearly twice as likely to have a healthcare bill go to collections compared to consumers 45 and older.

Getting expected out-of-pocket cost information also is a noted pain point.

Approximately 60% have tried to get out-of-pocket costs from providers ahead of care, but 51 percent didn’t get it easily or accurately.

However, the study did provide a way forward for providers.

Specifically, the top billing improvements healthcare consumers are calling for include:

  • Flexible payment plans for large bill amounts

  • Out-of-pocket cost estimates

  • Understandable bill explanations

  • Consolidated bills or statements

  • Better customer support

  • Digital payment options

For more information on Survata’s methodology, visit www.survata.com.