Consumer Health Care Tools Can Drive Informed Decisions
From wearables to web portals, “technology” is the buzzword in nearly every aspect of health care these days. An exciting development of that trend is the evolution of online tools to help consumers make better informed decisions about health care services.
We conducted a survey with MCOL, a leading publisher of health care industry information, asking business stakeholders for their perspective on consumer tools regarding health care costs and quality.
Overall, 59% of stakeholders indicated they are involved with consumer tools, while 32% responded they are not involved (9% were not sure). These technology resources are certainly a growing area with significant potential impact.
Here are highlights of the survey responses:
- Nearly 70% believe a typical consumer is likely or very likely to use online data/comparisons to discuss options and costs with a provider.
- About half feel a smartphone is the optimal delivery vehicle, 35% selected a desktop computer and 14% selected a tablet.
- Health insurance out-of-pocket cost calculators and health care service price estimator/comparisons were preferred applications.
- Issues of most concern were accuracy/credibility of data sources and consumer ability to understand/use a tool correctly.
Equipping consumers with the information they need to make effective choices is crucial to bending the health care cost trend downward. That means helping them gauge the quality of providers and the total costs involved so they can discuss options with their providers.
Moreover, both purchasers and providers of medical services must have confidence that the information consumer tools generate is credible and that consumers understand how to apply that information. In other words, when well designed, these resources can help create a common ground for patients and physicians to have a positive, transparent dialog about medical decisions that will benefit all concerned.
About Tim Crawford
Tim is Vice President, Marketing at Keenan and he has worked in the insurance field for more than 35 years. He has been a member of the Health Care Reform Committee for the past three years and enjoys writing about technical and community issues.