One of the “gifts” inspired by the coronavirus pandemic in healthcare has been the industry’s rapid turnaround and adoption of digital health tools, especially telehealth and, more generally, so-called “digital gateways” that enable patients to access medical services and personal. workflows for their care.
Two years later, Experian observes Patient access status. in 2023.
You may know the name Experian as one of the largest consumer finance credit rating agencies in the United States. What you may not know is that the company has a significant presence in the healthcare and financial technology industry. These consumer and supplier survey results combine the corporate interests discussed in this report.
Start by defining patient access. In this study, Experian talks more about digital workflows for patients and providers, specifically the issues that occur before the care encounter, as shown in the first graph;
- Date planning
- Pre-registration and registration
- Coverage verification and cost estimation
- Primary care payment services and
- Patient communication.
So how do people feel about the advancement of digital front doors in healthcare?
Check out the second table of pain points for patients and providers.
For many patients, the most painful access issue is getting a clinician quickly, cited by 4 in 5 healthcare consumers. Then, 1 in 2 patients say finding an appointment that fits their schedule is the top pain point, followed by appointment scheduling processes.
Staffing shortages for providers, post-pandemic confusion, and cost estimation challenges for patients continue to be pain points in the digital transformation process.
For better alignment, consumer-patients are looking to digital/mobile as a primary expectation for healthcare engagement with providers. Their personal preferences for digital front doors are phones first, followed by portals, in-person mode, email, text and lastly snail mail.
So in this chart, we see that three-quarters of patients would like to schedule appointments online or via mobile devices. And more than half of patients want more digital options to manage their care.
What do people want from digital transformation for their healthcare experiences? primary care cost estimates that are accurate (personalized based on their health insurance plans), payment plans to pay medical bills over time, digital payment options (think Venmo meets medical bills), multi-functional portal and mobile access, and Both administrative tasks and care, i.e. virtual care/telehealth.
Health Populi hotspots: As Experian notes the situation and experience gap, “the cost conversation continues.” The gap is that most providers believe they do a “pretty good job” of estimating patient costs, but a minority of patients don’t do as well, leading to surprise bills or higher costs than expected. :
And 63% of providers said patients often delay care because of cost.
A new CDC report examines the demographics of patients ages 18 to 64 (that is, not children or people of Medicare age) who avoid prescription drugs because of cost. Characteristics of adults aged 18-64 years who did not take medication as intended to reduce costs; United States, 2021.
The CDC asserts that high prescription drug costs can limit healthy consumers’ access to medications and lead to people not taking medications as prescribed, which poses risks for further illness and adverse events.
Patients as healthcare consumers trying to save on medical costs try to save money by skipping doses, taking less medicine (dose) than prescribed, or delaying Rx refills.
The proportion of US adults who avoid medications because of cost varies by patient characteristics, including:
- Gender: More women than men avoid medications because of cost
- Age at which adults 30-44 are at greatest risk of taking medications, cost avoidance
- Race/ethnicity, where 10.4% of black Americans did not take prescription drugs because of cost, compared with 7.4% of white Americans and 9.7% of Hispanic Americans, and,
- People with a disability were almost three times more likely to avoid medicines because of cost, with 18% of those in fair or poor health, compared to 6.3% of people in excellent, very good or good health.
So, as we continue to envision, design, and build digital gateways, we must remember that not all patients enter the gateways in the same way, nor do they uniformly face the same cost calculations that profoundly shape how when and where they can access that digital ramp.