Consumers more than ever are turning to the web to help manage the health, wellness and health business affairs, says a new survey of 1,000 consumers from health payer UnitedHealthGroup.
More than three-quarters of consumers (77%) say they are prepared for open enrollment, while 20% note they are unprepared. Those employed full-time are even more confident (82% say they are prepared), while millennials were less certain (69% say they are prepared).
More consumers also are turning to technology to access health information and care. A growing number (43%) said they would be likely to use telemedicine in the future to access care, a 6-percentage point increase from 2016.
36% percent of say they are using the internet or mobile apps to comparison shop for health care during the past year, with millennials the most likely to do so (51%).
Yet using the internet to research health issues can cause anxiety for some: Most respondents (68%) say they had used an internet search engine to research a potential health issue or symptom. Among those, 29% say doing so increased their anxiety about the potential health issue, highlighting the need for people to have access to resources such as 24/7 nurse support and virtual visits. Meanwhile, 23% of people who research health issues or symptoms online said doing so decreased their anxiety, while 49% reported no change.
“This survey shows people are embracing technology as an important resource to improve their health and more effectively navigate the health system,” says Rebecca Madsen, chief consumer officer of UnitedHealthcare.
Other survey findings include:
- Technology continues to play an increasingly important role in how people research healthcare options. More than one-third of respondents (36%) note they have used the internet or mobile apps during the last year to compare the quality and cost of medical services. That’s more than double from 14% in 2012 (per another UnitedHealthcare study).
- Among all comparison shoppers, 84% described the process as “very helpful” or “somewhat helpful,” up 4 percentage points from a year ago.One in 10 comparison shoppers said doing so prompted them to change both the healthcare provider and facility for the researched service. For people who said the comparison-shopping experience was not helpful, 42% say the estimates were confusing or not easy to understand; 26% said the results lacked key quality or cost information; and 7% said they were not customized for their health plan.
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