Posted by Mike Fontana on 05 May 2014
In our previous healthcare blog, we spoke about the age of the new healthcare consumer and the importance of having the ability to access the patient as market forces create an increased need to collect their personal financial responsibility. I mentioned that connecting with the patients by using electronic means such as a patient portal is more important than ever. To offer a little insight on what consumers are thinking about regarding electronic access and communication, it is important to look at what a specific influencer type is saying.
In 2012, Alacriti partnered with an online community called SheSpeaks where women gather in order to share their thoughts and opinions. The purpose was to survey their members regarding healthcare portal and payment services. This general survey of 3,091 women indicated that they were the primary decision-makers regarding health-related matters (58%) or shared the responsibility (37%) with someone else.
This was not a surprise to me as I had always seen women as the more nurturing gender, as I was growing up with family and friends. The information also indicated that more than 1 in 4 (27%) are also making healthcare decisions outside of their immediate household, with the majority supporting the needs of parents or in-laws.
These women truly are part of the sandwich generation we hear about, and with so many responsibilities in their lives appear to be very supportive of electronic services which bring to them efficiencies in meeting their daily needs. This was indicated as they responded to several questions, including whether an integrated portal for access and management of personal information and payments was important to them. Approximately 3 in 4 (76%) indicated that it was very or somewhat important, 55% also would prefer to pay online versus other options, and additionally, almost 4 in 10 (38%) were more likely to chose a healthcare provider which offered online services. Some of the features that they thought were important in online access included the ability to:
Access medical records (68%)
Manage personal information and view statement history (61%)
Complete personal and insurance forms prior to their visit (59%)
Send/receive secure messages to/from their healthcare provider (55%)
Sign up for a payments plan (47%)
By offering these and other electronic services to patients, which can be accessed during multiple parts of the revenue cycle, this will assist providers in better touching their patients, creating a better experience for them, as well as efficiencies for the provider organizations and their new consumer.