New Report: Health care consumer expectations

In today’s age of consumerism and technology, customers in all sectors expect more from the companies they patronize. What does this mean for what patients expect from their health care providers? NRC Health’s 2020 Healthcare Consumer Trends Report compiles insights from more than two million patient feedback comments, the Market Insights database, and more to find out what patients are looking for in their providers.

Better digital health care — and a better experience in the office

NRC found that one of the biggest patient preferences is digital services. 62% of patients are open to digital channels of care delivery if it means faster service, and one third of patients want to book their own appointments online. The younger generations in particular look for digital services in their provider: 69% of millennial and Gen Z patients are likely to choose providers based on the availability of digital services – including provider communication via text message, which 70% of them want.

Conversely, 61% of them are willing to switch providers over a subpar digital experience.

Patients want a better in-person experience as well: Patients who leave positive comments about admission or registration are 46 times more likely to promote a health care brand than patients who leave negative comments about these features. Wait times are also important to patients, as those with positive comments about wait times are 20 times more likely to promote a health care brand than those with negative comments.

An end to confusing health-care bills

Billing has been a source of frustration for patients for years, so it’s no surprise that patients also desire clear, understandable, and affordable invoices. “Billing-related issues remain a consistent source of frustration for consumers,” the authors of NRC’s report wrote. “Enduring customer loyalty will, in large part, depend on health care organizations’ efforts to resolve them.”

High-touch hospital discharge support

The biggest area for improvement, however, is the discharge process. The majority of patients in NRC’s study are dissatisfied with what happens when they leave an organization, and millennial and Gen Z patients are particularly unhappy. 70% of their discharge-related comments are negative, and they prefer more “high-touch” service interactions such as daily check-ins, which 65% expressed interest in. 74.8% of patients of all ages expect a follow-up within two days of a service problem, and 66.29% consider service issues left unaddressed for one week “irreparable.”

The bottom line: patients want a painless experience

In summary, the NRC report authors have some simple advice about patient concerns and preferences: “The closer health care encounters come to frictionless experiences, the better patient perceptions will be.” Patients are looking for more streamlined and efficient services, as well as a more digital experience. Most providers are already aware of these patient desires, but implementation may be slow-going. “Consumers’ expectations are rising at a pace that nearly outstrips providers’ ability to satisfy them,” the authors of the NRC’s report wrote. But, they added, “Daunting as these challenges can seem, they also represent opportunities – and forward-thinking organizations may yet learn how to seize them.”

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