Insurance Carriers Need To Up The Ante

What The Health Industry Needs To Do To Earn Our Business.  The Good Ol’Ways To Do Business.

The health care industry needs to adopt an old business principle: The customer comes first. It’s that, or fall behind and lose our business. That’s the finding of a survey released Thursday by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute, which says the health care industry needs to rev up the customer experience, especially as State Exchanges open up a retail market for more than 23 million individual shoppers by 2018. The in-depth survey of 6,000 consumers finds that when it comes to interacting with a hospital, doctor’s office or other health care provider, consumers are nearly twice as likely as those in the airline, hotel and banking industries to say that staff friendliness and attitude dictate whether the experience was positive or negative. A third of consumers said they would be willing to switch their health insurance or health care provider if another company offered a more “ideal experience.”

Personal experience is the top reason for choosing a doctor or hospital. That trumps price, which tops the reason for buying decisions in every other industry. “The voice of the customer may be the best kept secret in health care, but that’s changing as consumers exert greater control over how their health care dollars are spent and exercise power to vote with their feet and wallets,” explains Kelly Barnes, U.S. Health Industries leader, PwC. “Hospitals and insurers are competing for loyal customers served by new care and coverage models in a more retail-oriented health market.”

Health care consumers say they’re less forgiving of providers with whom they have had a negative experience. Six out of 10 negative experiences are more likely to be remembered for longer in the provider industry compared to other industries, the survey finds. Consumers also care about convenience. The services they value most about are: facilities that offer multiple services in one location (69 percent); the ability to exchange information through online and mobile channels of communication (65 percent); patient education they receive during a visit (57 percent) and the cafeteria and access to WiFi and other entertainment (53 percent).

One of the key takeaways of the survey, HRI researchers say, is that health organizations should open up forums for customer feedback so they can proactively monitor and manage customer experiences. “Lessons from other industries have slowly made their way into the health industry, but most health care companies—whether payer or provider—still have a ways to go before they can match the transparency, convenience and overall quality of experience individual consumers often demand in other sectors,” says Paul D’Alessandro, PwC health industries advisory principal and U.S. customer impact leader.

In fact, consumers rank their personal experiences with their health insurer low compared to their experiences at hotels, restaurants and airlines. So what’s an insurer to do? Perhaps look at what the Coverage is – first and foremost, consumers want coverage. Almost all—87 percent—say they value coverage of more than 90 percent of providers. Next or second to none is, fast claims processing.  Most consumers—at 60 percent—say they seek claims processing within two weeks of service. Following claims, is how to access the appropriate information that you need to determine coverage and options – Information, consumers want it, when they want it, in an easy straightforward manner. Give them what they want—and as far as information goes, that means variety. Half of consumers say it’s important to have information provided to them in both paper and online formats.

Ranking High with access to information was web site content Nearly half (43 percent) value website content that provides information about providers and plan information. To satisfy consumers’ desire for transparency, insurers should consider investing in online tools for individuals to easily compare health plans, benefits and associated costs and quality measures.

This might explain why health insurance labels—which the PPACA requires that health insurance providers make available so consumers can clearly understand what they’re getting with their health plan—are so popular. Positive experience Perhaps none of these previously mentioned services will help an insurer if customer service is lacking. The health sector scores significantly lower on customers’ willingness to report positive interactions. And it’s worth noting: consumers rely heavily on personal recommendations when it comes to health care choices. PwC researchers note, “Health insurers and providers need to offer quick and easy feedback channels to capture both positive and negative experiences, act on customer comments, and monitor their online reputation.”

By allowing a health insurance expert assist you in your selection of the most appropriate insurance policy will help you save time, money and the grievances of a negative experience.  Give us a call today and let us take the puzzle out of purchasing insurance.