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Payers Need to Work on Earning-and Keeping-Trust


Data security is just one part of it. Payers also need to deliver an excellent member experience to create and maintain trust.

Jean-Pierre Stephan

Jean-Pierre Stephan

Recent Accenture research shows consumers who trust their health payers are much more likely to stay with and recommend them to friends and family. Consumers expect the kind of experiences they get from disrupters in other industries-consistent, personalized digital experiences powered by data and artificial intelligence.

Conversations around the topic of trust often focus on data security. After all, data and AI are critical for payers to improve decision making, customer experience, and business outcomes. Payers cannot realize these outcomes if consumers do not trust them to secure their personal data and use it appropriately while protecting their privacy.
But data security is only part of the trust story in healthcare. By delivering member experiences that are highly personalized, interactive, and visually appealing, payers can build consumer trust in healthcare when it matters. Payers need to meet the needs of consumers-to be digital when members want their experience to be digital but make human interactions available when they want to speak with someone.

In the digital economy, trust fuels engagement and retention. Just like data breaches, failures in the user experience can erode trust quickly, often with lasting consequences.

Related: Partnership Works to Enhance Communication Post-Discharge

So, as consumers’ digital expectations rise, how can payers turn more consumers into “trusters”? To investigate this further, Accenture examined consumers’ trust of their payers across two dimensions-healthcare decision-making and healthcare coverage-to determine a total trust score for three groups: distrusters, neutrals, and trusters.

How are payers performing when it comes to consumer trust? Based on Accenture’s trust scoring method, Medicare Advantage consumers have the highest percentage of trusters (61%), while group consumers include a significantly lower proportion (37%) with consumers in the individual market falling in the middle (45%). These trust gaps have implications for payers’ ability to engage and retain each of these important segments of consumers.

Accenture research finds that poor customer experience drives consumers into the distrust category. Here are four must-haves and must-dos to establish and maintain trust:

  • Consistency. Responses must be consistent and accurate regardless of the interaction method.

  • Listening. Consumers must be certain that their feedback on their service experiences is heard and addressed.

  • First-time resolution. Questions are answered accurately the first time customer service is contact ed and that the problem is solved. If it is a more complicated issue, then customers must be sure that someone is working on solving it.

  • Clarity. Information is provided on how much is owed for healthcare services-and why.

In our analysis, moving consumers from a neutral opinion to a truster’s one should be a priority for payers. Not only does this require an intentional emphasis on truly engaging consumers to understand their coverage through the methods they prefer, the drivers of change are different from those that  would influence distrusters.

The focus should be on getting people the right information delivered through the right channel at the right consumer experience touchpoints. Take enrollment, for example. Never underestimate the power of the first impression. Trusters are twice as likely to strongly agree that the process for selecting and completing enrollment with their insurer is simple and easy as neutrals. After enrollment, trusters are nearly three times more likely than neutrals to strongly agree that the information received helps them understand how to use their health insurance. And at the point of care, trusters are nearly four times as likely to strongly agree that they get trustworthy and unbiased advice from their insurer for choosing the right treatment or medication as neutrals.

In summary, trust is the most important currency in the digital era, and a cornerstone of digital health. To build trust, payers should implement AI-powered digital experiences that improve listening capabilities, support first-time resolution of customer issues, and improve the consistency and clarity of the information provided. Because without healthcare consumers’ trust, engagement, loyalty, and future growth hang in the balance.  

Jean-Pierre Stephan is a managing director in Accenture’s Health-Payer practice.

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