More consumers are kicking the tires than actually buying into new forms of healthcare delivery including online and in retail settings, says a new survey on consumer healthcare from management consulting and research firm Oliver Wyman.

The annual survey, which this year included responses from 2,509 consumers of varying age, finds that trust and comfort level are the main reasons consumers list for not yet using digital tools such as telehealth, apps, wearables and portals to manage their healthcare business or health and wellness.

But the more compelling takeaway for healthcare providers and insurers is the fact that the current alternative forms of healthcare delivery such as through telehealth and retail walk-in clinics aren’t innovative enough for many consumers to switch away from traditional doctor and hospital benefits.

So far, only 8% of consumers responding to the Oliver Wyman survey have used a retail clinic, compared with 10% that have done a digital doctor visit and 10% that have used an app to get medical advice. For routine medical treatment such as getting treated for a minor injury or for some form of routine preventative care or an annual physical, 27% of consumers had used a retail clinic vs. 15% and 4%, respectively, online.

What consumers want is not what most companies in healthcare are offering.

Digital healthcare and retail walk-in clinics do give consumers more convenience and alternative ways to seek treatment, but the Oliver Wyman survey found that trust and comfort level are still barriers preventing more patients from using telehealth. For example, 50% of Baby Boomers still haven’t tried telehealth because “they did not feel comfortable receiving medical care without being in-person with the doctor.” 40% of Baby Boomers taking the survey also were not aware of any available telehealth service from their payers and providers.


“There is indeed a hunger for a new healthcare experience, but what consumers want is not what most companies in healthcare are offering,” says Oliver Wyman health and life sciences principal John Rudoy. “This suggests if consumers are not yet buying, it’s because industry offerings are not yet compelling enough to overcome consumer resistance.”

Trust is another issue. 80% of consumers say they are fairly confident in the advice their doctor offers including 42% that trust their doctor’s opinion “without question.” But only 45% of respondents would trust their primary doctor to monitor their personal health and wellness through apps and wearables vs. just 8% for health systems, 6% for insurers and 2% for “Trust and comfort remain obstacles to the adoption of a newer model of healthcare,” according to the survey.

Other key takeaways from the survey:

• Consumer willingness: About 40% of consumers says they would be comfortable receiving treatment for minor medical issues through a retail clinic, and 35% of consumers would receive that care through telehealth.

• Reasons for sharing personal healthcare data: More than 50% of consumers would be willing to share personal health information to receive services more tailored to their situation. Fewer than 40% were willing to share personal health information to receive health services for a cheaper price.


“Consumers are generally less willing to receive care through the new front door for services based on longer term, recurring relationships, such as an annual physical or management of a chronic condition, but are more willing to for simple transactional services, such as treatment for minor medical events,” the survey says. “This suggests hesitance around use of the new front door is driven not by a lack of quality, but by a lack of faith that it can support the close connections and long-term relationships healthcare consumers are looking for.”

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