Consumers using various forms of digital healthcare services and devices to monitor their health and wellness and comparison-shop for medical care isn’t quite mainstream—yet.
But a new survey from UnitedHealthcare, the biggest private health insurer headquartered in Minneapolis, finds that using mobile apps and digital healthcare devices to manage more aspects of personal health—and the healthcare business—is gaining quickly in popularity.
For example, the survey of 1,008 adults age 18 and over finds that 37% of consumers are now using the web in combination with apps to comparison-shop for healthcare services. 45% of consumers also say they are content for physicians to use artificial intelligence if AI helps in making a better diagnosis and care plan.
“Technology continues to reshape nearly every aspect of life, including how people research and access healthcare,” says UnitedHealthcare chief consumer officer Rebecca Madsen.
Among all consumers, 80% of survey respondents that use the internet and apps to comparison-shop for healthcare procedures rate their digital experience as “very” or “somewhat” helpful. 50% of millennials also comparison-shop for healthcare services online—more than any other age group, says UnitedHealthcare. 39% of consumers also say that comparison-shopping for healthcare procedures online also prompted them to change clinicians, facilities or both.
Other survey findings include:
- 64% of consumers say they never know the cost of medications before leaving the doctor’s office.
- 39% of consumers say they are likely to schedule a digital doctor visit at some point in the future.
- Consumers still need to improve their healthcare literacy. Only 59% and 53% of consumers, respectively, knew correctly what their health plan premiums and deductibles were. Just 33% of consumers know the correct meaning of out-of-pocket maximum and 21% the proper meaning of co-insurance.
- Patients are increasing their use of digital healthcare tools and services, but for follow-up questions 66% of consumers prefer speaking with a live customer service agent compared with 10% and 8%, respectively, through a self-service feature online or by email.
“This survey suggests Americans are increasingly embracing technology as an important resource to improve their health and more effectively navigate the health system, while highlighting the need for further investment in new resources to help enhance the care experience and provide more effective, evidence-based clinical interventions,” Madsen says.