Report: Patients Avoiding Healthcare Due to Complexity

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Key Insights

  • Due to the difficulty and complexity of “finding, accessing, and paying for healthcare in America,” half of consumers have avoided care. 
  • Access to care, which includes understanding out-of-pocket costs and filling out necessary paperwork, was considered the most difficult phase. 
  • The majority of respondents (81 percent) believe the coronavirus pandemic will reshape healthcare delivery. 

Poll: Confused Consumers Are Avoiding Care

A recent poll commissioned by Change Healthcare indicates that half of consumers have avoided care due to the healthcare system’s complexity and lack of transparency. The poll also found that more than “two-thirds of consumers said every step of the healthcare process is a chore, most said they don’t know how much a treatment or visit costs until months later, and nearly all said they want shopping for healthcare to be as easy as shopping for other common services—including making it a fully connected digital experience.”

Respondents ranked the difficulty of 29 tasks related to finding, accessing, and paying for healthcare on a scale from 1 to 200, with 200 being the “hardest” and 100 being “difficult.” The average score for tasks was 117. 

Understanding the Data

In summarizing the poll’s findings, William Krause, Vice President of Connected Consumer Health™ at Change Healthcare, noted: “Consumers want health plans and providers to end the fragmentation, simplify the experience, and deliver a fully connected encounter that makes healthcare as seamless as any other digital endeavor — whether that’s shopping for goods, booking a trip, or paying bills. Payers and providers that streamline healthcare for patients and members will gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.”

According to a press release, researchers also identified five major takeaways: 

  • A majority of consumers (81 percent) believe COVID-19 will fundamentally change healthcare delivery. 
  • Consumers want accurate cost estimates from payers, and price transparency from providers.
  • Consumers find the healthcare system overwhelmingly and unnecessarily complex. 
  • Consumers want better, clearer, easier communications from health plans and providers, with a preference for digital channels.
  • Health plans and providers need to prioritize winning with the all-digital consumer. 

The data reflects the growing understanding of healthcare consumerism. “In an e-commerce world, consumers want the healthcare shopping experience to be simple and streamlined,” according to the report. Eighty-one percent of respondents believe healthcare should be “as easy as shopping for other common services.” The numbers also highlight the need for greater coordination of care; 56 percent of respondents found it difficult to coordinate care between all of their providers. 

The intimidating challenge of finding care is an often overlooked component of health literacy. As Krause noted, “One could argue that, in a digital economy, the effort required to find, access, and pay for care is a social determinant of health.” By simplifying the healthcare experience, payers, physicians, and providers can potentially help patients and members achieve better health outcomes while also improving “their businesses’ performance.”

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