Lousy digital experiences leave younger consumers frustrated – and ready to switch

Healthcare providers hoping to maintain competitive advantage should keep digital patient experience top-of-mind, as tech-savvy consumers have shown they'll go elsewhere for a better one.
By Nathan Eddy
11:27 AM

A frustrating digital experience will push younger healthcare consumers to seek new providers and leaving withering reviews of bad experiences, according to a new survey of more than 1,600 U.S. consumers.

WHY IT MATTERS
The study, sponsored by patient payment and engagement platform provider Cedar and conducted by research firm Survata, also revealed one in five have already stopped or switched providers over a poor digital experience.

Younger Americans are the most frustrated with patient billing processes and the most likely to switch providers if they have a poor experience, with two-thirds of survey respondents 18-24 years old indicating frustration with their provider’s lack of digital tools.

In addition, the survey found more than four in 10 (41 percent) said they’d consider switching to a provider who offered a better digital experience, and revealed online review sites play a major role when choosing a provider.

Moreover, consumers are demanding better digital tools and options: 41 percent expect consolidated bills across multiple providers or episodes of care, 38 percent want improved customer support for immediate billing questions, and a third want digital payment options.

THE LARGER TREND
Just under half of survey respondents expressed frustration about their provider’s lack of adoption of digital administrative processes like online bill pay or access to insurance information, and a third don’t think that healthcare providers have done enough to improve the patient billing and payment process.

When asked to rate the worst part of their experience with a provider, the majority took issue with pre- or post-visit administrative processes beyond clinical care, with majority of respondents calling for three specific improvements within healthcare billing.

These include out of pocket cost estimates to help them understand their responsibility, payment flexibility through creative payment plan options, and more bill clarity.

The study recommended out of pocket cost estimators, more flexible payment plans, digital payment options, real-time support, and bill consolidation as major steps the healthcare industry could take to improve consumer satisfaction.

ON THE RECORD
"While technology has rapidly innovated how we treat patients on the clinical side, administrative processes have yet to catch up," said Florian Otto, founder and CEO of Cedar, in a statement. "Modern consumers — armed with new levels of data, treatment options and heightened expectations — now demand more and the industry must rise to the challenge."

"Consumers expect simple and convenient options that promote transparency for their healthcare payments, which translates to improved financial outcomes for providers," the study noted. "t’s time to rethink the end-to-end patient financial experience to match what consumers are getting in other industries."

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer: nathaneddy@gmail.com
Twitter: @dropdeaded209