Convenience must be the Foundation of any Health Strategy

• Compared with other countries, the US health care system has a greater number of detractors: 41% of US consumers and 34% of US physicians rate the overall performance of the US health care system as “below average.”

• The majority of US consumers are willing to share health-related data with physicians (82%), while this number drops for other ecosystem stakeholders: 44% for payers, 18% for employers and 10% for online retailers.

• Affordability of care is a key issue to consumers and physicians, with 69% and 61%, respectively, indicating that affordability to care was below average in the US.

New York -The US health sector appears to be at the edge of digital reinvention, according to the 2019 US NextWave Health Survey released by EY today. Driven by pressures to improve outcomes and reduce costs through the introduction of new technologies that take advantage of ubiquitous connectivity, the survey of 2,428 US consumers and 158 physicians found that both groups are keen to embrace new technologies that improve engagement.

Most physicians surveyed (68%) believe they are prepared to provide quality care in the midst of a changing industry. Many are using available health technologies, such as secure messaging (62%), patient portals (60%) and clinical decision support (44%). As physicians continue to expand their digital investments, they must take into account the largest motivators for consumer adoption: increased cost savings (59%) and reduced wait times (52%).

Consumers are also interested in technologies that will help them manage their health and engage with physicians. Sixty-eight percent of surveyed consumers want to make an appointment online, and 54% would like to communicate electronically with their doctor. Interestingly, when asked whether they currently use these technologies, consumer responses were relatively low. Thirty-one percent indicate that they currently make appointments online, 26% complete registration forms online, while 30% paid for health care expenses online. This disconnect between the desire for particular forms of engagement and actual use indicates that consumers are keen to be supported by the tools that provide a convenient, holistic user experience.

“It’s clear from our survey that US consumers and physicians value convenience and aren’t engaging with the piecemeal technology that has been implemented across the health ecosystem,” said Carole Faig, EY US Health Leader. “What’s needed is a truly integrated consumer experience.”

When asked about the overall performance of the US health system, consumers are generally divided. Thirty-nine percent view the overall performance as positive, while 41% view the performance as poor. Results also show younger generations (49%) are more critical toward their health and the health system than older consumers (28%). Interestingly, the US health care system has more detractors when compared with the previously released NextWave results from England, the Netherlands and Australia. According to Faig, the fact that the US report reveals such a difference is likely driven by perceived affordability issues within the system. This is supported by the survey data: the cost of premiums ranks as the single most important factor when selecting an insurance plan (40%) for US consumers.

US consumers are increasingly open to sharing their medical data with physicians (82%). Although privacy remains a concern, many view health-related technology as attractive solutions for improving health and wellness (42%) and accessibility to comprehensive, individual health information (39%). However, there are limits to the types of data and to whom consumers will share their data. While consumers are generally open about sharing data with physicians, they are more hesitant about sharing information with payers (44%), employers (18%) and online retailers (10%).