Report: Provider, payer websites are go-to online resources for patients making care decisions

Provider and payer websites are among the main online resources healthcare consumers turn to when searching for information about services, selecting providers and accessing care, according to a new survey by patient access solutions provider Kyruus.

Wakefield Research, which conducted the fifth annual patient access journey survey on behalf of Kyruus, polled 1,000 U.S. adults in August.

Nearly 60% of respondents said they conducted online research to learn about providers — up five percentage points in the past five years. Surprisingly, Gen Xers (41 to 56 years) and Baby Boomers (57 to 75 years) were more likely than Millennials (25 to 40 years) to turn to the Internet.

The top online resources when searching for new providers were healthcare organization websites (60%) and general internet searches (53%).

Similarly, nearly 60% of consumers said they used the internet when searching for a new service or care site, most commonly using a general internet search (60% of online researchers) or visiting a healthcare organization website (58%).

It is not just the provider websites that served as popular resources for consumers. Payer websites also played a prominent role.

About 52% of online researchers consulted a health plan website when searching for a new provider, and 41% used a payer website to search for new services or care sites. Primarily, consumers visited payer websites to verify that a provider found elsewhere was in-network (66%), search for an in-network provider (51%) and estimate out-of-pocket costs for a chosen provider (25%). [Click to enlarge image]

For consumers, decisions about where and from whom to receive care are heavily influenced by the timeliness of appointments and price transparency.

Approximately 74% of respondents said that ability to obtain timely care, that is, near-term appointment availability influences their healthcare decisions. This was closely followed by the ability to stay within a specific healthcare organization or care network (63%) and care cost transparency, that is, knowing their estimated out-of-pocket costs (50%).

After deciding where and from whom to obtain care, consumers look for convenient appointment scheduling options.

Though phone-based booking remains consumers’ most preferred option, with 50% of respondents citing it, the popularity of phone-based scheduling has dwindled — dropping 12 percentage points in the past five years.

On the other hand, 40% of consumers overall prefer to book via online channels. This figure has risen 15 percentage points since the 2017 patient access journey survey.

The shift appears to be prompted by Millennials and Gen Xers, with 59% and 44% of people in those age groups, respectively, saying they prefer online booking.

Meanwhile, only 24% of Baby Boomers said they prefer online channels. [Click to enlarge image]

“Five years of survey data has shown that the patient access journey increasingly spans multiple channels, with people relying heavily on both healthcare delivery organizations and health plans to navigate their care decisions,” said Dr. Graham Gardner, CEO of Kyruus, in a news release.

Photo: ijeab, Getty Images, Kyruus


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