What Your Members Want You to Know About Your Consumer Experience

The main message from last week’s AHIP Consumer Experience and Digital Health Forum keynote speaker, branding expert Johnny Cupcakes (yes, you read that right), was to focus on human to human connections. While he may not have known it, he just so happened to give us an ideal set up for the panel session we were hosting, which featured the object of the health care industry’s focus—people. We brought together four health care consumers to share their stories and, frankly, their frustrations, with health insurance.

Our panelists represented different walks of life and different health care needs, presenting a well-rounded group of perspectives to share with the health plan employees in the audience. Across the group, however, there was a consistent message to share: please do better. Their message echoes what we’re consistently hearing from people across the country: they want more empathy and better assistance from their health plans.

Are you curious about what real consumers are saying about your health plan’s digital experience? See below for highlights from what we heard during the session:

People are open to using online tools, but they want one place to do everything

Our panelists are aware they have online resources from their health plans, but they’d like the ability to do more. For example, they want to schedule appointments right from the sample place they look for in-network doctors. Or, be able to access video visits with providers. Our panelists also acknowledged that they have different apps or websites where they can do a lot of different things related to health care, but having individual places for individual actions is not ideal. As one panelists, Kimberly, stated: “It would be great to have one comprehensive place where I can do everything…I have to go one place for my HSA, another to find my EOBs and another to access wellness programs.”

Another panelist, Raffeal, shared his experience trying to get an MRI for his son. After coming across five-plus week waits at most clinics, he and his doctor were glad to locate an imaging center that could see his son immediately, assuming they could get pre-authorization. It took Raffeal’s wife three hours on the phone with their health plan to get that pre-authorization – a confusing and frustrating process to say the least. He wants online tools that work and was frustrated that insurance companies are encouraging their members to use online portals for self-service, but his family wasn’t able to use these online tools in a time of urgent need.

You know us, so use that information to help

There is no shortage of data in health care. People want health plans to use that information to help them by giving them better, more personalized experiences. As one of our panelists put it, “everyone wants to protect their personal info, but is there really any privacy anymore? I’m ok with you knowing my information and habits to personalize my experience more.”

Want to make sure your messages to your members are seen? Our panelists said they are willing to share information about their communications preferences and interests. “If I get a survey asking for my opinion to help improve my experience, I’m happy to answer questions about my preferences,” said Stephen. He added, “but then you better use that information.”

Self-service online resources aren’t enough

As a health care consumer and HR decision maker, panelist Stephen thinks of online portals a lot like the self-service check-out lines at Walmart. “I don’t mind using them, but if I have a real issue or problem, I want to talk to the manager.”

Health care is more complicated than purchasing or returning a new toy at the store. A consumer may need to take care of billing issues or get answers on multiple questions. When Stephen needs help, he wants access to be easy. “It sure would be great if I could have one number where a human would actually answer. Just one human that kind of cares.”

Our panelists also talked about wanting more help and guidance to find the right doctor. Raffeal wants more information: “I’d like to know who they are, where they went for certifications…[I’d also like to know if] there some kind of score to help me pick,” he says. Another panelist, Pat, is looking for her plan to help guide her to a PCP that accepts her plan. “I found several doctors, but they weren’t accepting Medicare patients. It has been weeks and I’m still trying to find someone,” she says. She’s struggling to do what the plan wants (get a PCP) and would like her plan to help her more.

While the cost of health care is top of mind for the panelists, in the crisis situation with Raffeal and his son mentioned above, Raffeal says he just wanted some extra assistance and empathy from his plan. Another panelist added that in stressful situations, “you just want to be taken care of. If health plans had people who could help them find cost-effective care at the point of need, that would be good.”

Our industry can do better when it comes to helping people navigate their health care benefits.

Health care starts and ends with people. While we’re experts at developing and delivering software and programs that help health plans support their members to navigate health care, we’re passionate about sharing the stories of people to help make health care better for everyone. Although we hear consistent themes of concern from people across the country, we’re excited health plans are listening, learning and acting on insights from these brave people willing to share their stories. And, we’ll continue to drive change by sharing the stories of patients, advocates and change-makers, and delivering new solutions to help people navigate the necessary world of health care.

Reach out to learn more about our detailed consumer insights and tools to help your health plan provide an integrated experience to give your members the support they need.