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Healthcare Consumers on Technology and Decision Making: A Dozen Things To Know from a UnitedHealthcare Survey

by Clive Riddle, September 27, 2019

As healthcare consumers are about to embark into a decade, a new survey tells us they are turning even more to technology for health information, decision-making and purchasing. UnitedHealthcare has released results from their fourth-annual Consumer Sentiment Survey, which “examines Americans’ attitudes and opinions about multiple areas of health care, including open enrollment preparedness, technology and transparency trends and health literacy.” United tells us the study focuses on three areas: 1) Open Enrollment Preparedness; 2) Technology & Transparency Trends; and 3) Health Literacy & Consumer Preferences.


Here’s a dozen takeaways from the survey:

  1. A new-high 37% have used the internet or mobile apps to comparison shop for care (14% in 2012), including 50% of Millennials
  2. 46% cited a health care professional, such as a doctor or nurse, as the first source of information about specific health symptoms or ailments, and 20% first use the internet or a mobile app
  3. 39% who shopped online changed the facility or care provider (or both) as a result
  4. 64% “never” know the Rx costs before leaving the doctor’s office; 21%  “sometimes” know and 11% always know the price.
  5. 45% said they would be interested in their physician using AI in care decisions (including 55% of Millennials); and 28% were uninterested
  6. For those interested in AI support for physicians, 46% were motivated by the potential for a more accurate diagnosis; 31% cited the potential to reduce human error; and 15% hoped for faster treatment decisions
  7. 39% would likely use telemedicine in the future to access care (up 2 from 2016)
  8. 75% of those with benefits say they are prepared for the fall’s open enrollment season (down 2 points from last year) including 84% of Gen-Xers and 78% of Baby Boomers, but just 69% of Millennials and 44% of Gen-Z.
  9. 36% devote less than one hour to open enrollment; 27% spent between one and three hours; and 23% said more than three hours.
  10. 55% check if their doctors are in-network for the health plan they intend to select
  11. 59% successfully defined plan premium, 53% defined the meaning of deductible, while 335 could define out-of-pocket maximum and 21% define co-insurance
  12. 66% preferred speaking directly with a customer service representative to resolve health plan issues; and 10% preferred a self-service option through an app or online.

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