AHIP 2021 Patient Panel Takeaways: Building Trust and User Experience

Incorporating patient voices is critical for health plans as they work to build solutions that meet the unique needs of their users.​​ As part of our #WTFix series, we recently hosted a panel of patients for health plans to do just that – hear from them on what they want and need when it comes to health plans, healthcare, and digital experiences.

Below are the key themes and highlights that came through from our conversation at the AHIP Consumer Experience & Digital Health Forum. You can access the full recording anytime by clicking here.

Takeaway 1: Healthcare is confusing

While there are several efforts out there to help reduce confusion in healthcare, this theme remained prominent for our four panelists. When we asked what the “first word” that came to mind was when talking about healthcare, panelists Lindsey and Janice said  “complicated” and “health scare.” They took turns sharing stories of the challenges they have faced navigating healthcare.

Lindsey’s story is particularly important to health plans seeking to make healthcare less confusing through price transparency initiatives. Lindsey was diagnosed with MS in 2010 and shared how she often feels stuck between the payer and provider when trying to find out what her care would cost her. Not only is this confusing, but it is often frustrating. “You’re not sure [what] the cost might be. You talk to the provider and they say talk to your insurance company; you talk to the insurance company and they say talk to your provider. You feel like you’re tossed back and forth a lot of the time.” At the end of the day, despite her research, Lindsey still had to use hope as her strategy – hoping that her insurance will cover the costs and doctors are knowledgeable; that she won’t receive any surprise bills.

Health plans and health systems have to do more to support patients as they search for care. Hope is not a strategy anyone should have to employ just to find and obtain the care they need.

Takeaway 2: Trust in price transparency is still missing 

In our discussion, panelists indicated just how much more work many plans have to do to ensure their members can trust the cost information they find, questioning if the cost information they find online is accurate. Janice, who has been her husband’s caregiver for 14 years, expressed that: “I just don’t trust [the] information and I always have more questions I want to ask, which doesn’t work out on the website.”

Greg, who describes himself as a practicing “question-ologist,” wondered why oftentimes cost estimates are located at the bottom of the website, almost hidden from the patients. He said “that for me was a good example of what creates mistrust. Why wouldn’t you start by sharing that with me? Why wouldn’t that be an important piece?” For him, accuracy and consistency are more important than who has the information on cost of care. Ultimately, he believes the shared goal is to ensure that anyone seeking care doesn’t experience unintended cruelty.

Healthcare consumers can only rely on cost estimators when these price transparency tools are consistent and accurate.

Takeaway 3: Patient inclusion is critical for the healthcare industry

Finally, we asked our panelists to share ways for health plans and health systems to gain more trust from healthcare consumers. It didn’t come as a surprise that the answer was simply to include patients in what they are doing.

Denean, a medical social worker and a patient and family advocate, shared a solution that strongly resonated with everyone: “In every conference, symposium, [and] forum in healthcare, there should be a patient consumer panelist. If you don’t have it, then there is a problem. There is a miscommunication when you can’t invite those who use the services to your forums to speak out and to share not only stories but solutions.”

Denean also pointed out that the advisory councils and boards in her area lack diversity. “It’s not just diversity in ethnicity and race but I don’t see around the table people in the community who are lay individuals, who represent each one of those healthcare plans.”

To close the session, co-moderator Dr. Erin Jospe emphasized, “We need the voice of human beings in all of their different iterations to have a seat at the table. We need to listen to people who are experiencing care to improve their experiences.”

If you’d like to hear more from Denean, Greg, Janice, and Lindsey on their experiences with healthcare, click here to watch the full webinar recording.