NRC Health Releases Healthcare Consumer Trends Report: How Providers Can Get Closer to the Customer in 2020
Access to Care, Convenience Remain Top Priorities for Consumers Across All Demographics
NRC Health, the leading provider of in-depth customer intelligence in healthcare, today released its 2020 Healthcare Consumer Trends Report. The second annual report is based on NRC Health’s Customer Intelligence Platform used by more than 580 healthcare organizations in all 50 states to reflect the voice of consumers. NRC Health found that while 85 percent of consumers express fond feelings for their clinicians, they’re more ambivalent towards other points in their care journey, like access points, billing procedures and appointment booking options. The year-in-review report offers data-driven insights and expert testimonials to help healthcare leaders better understand the blistering pace of modern consumer culture with the rigorous structures of clinical care to deliver the kind of experience patients want.
“We know the majority of patients connect with their providers, but we’re still a far cry from securing the same level of satisfaction across the entire care experience,” said Steve Jackson, NRC Health President. “So, what can healthcare leaders do? Start by examining the data, then look at best practices from other industries like banking and retail, but most importantly, listen to your patients. Nine times out of 10 they have answers you’re looking for – you just have to be open and willing to listen and then transfer that knowledge into actionable change for the better.”
Access and convenience are king for consumers
Consumers and healthcare executives are starkly aligned on healthcare’s access problem. More than 60 percent of patients mention access-related issues in their feedback including travel times, appointment scheduling, registration and increasing check-in or wait-times. It’s clear that consumers want convenience – from wanting more accessible healthcare locations to expanded operating hours and appointment availability. They also want efficiency, with 62 percent open to trying new channels like digital care delivery if it means they get faster care, while more than one-third of patients prefer to save time and book appointments themselves.
Boomers, Millennials and Gen Z at odds on ancillary care experience
Billing, wait times and scheduling were among the top problem areas in the ancillary care experience, as identified by researchers. Yet the generational gap played a huge role in whether patients commented on these aspects positively or negatively. Sixty-three percent of baby boomers left positive comments about hospital billing processes, while 70 percent feel positively about wait times and an even bigger margin, 75 percent, are satisfied with their healthcare organizations’ scheduling capabilities.
Conversely, a large majority of Millennial and Generation Z patients commented negatively on billing (65 percent), wait-times (50 percent) and scheduling (50 percent), pointing to the kind of contrasts that make it difficult for organizations to identify the best places to martial their resources.
Patient follow-up could be the key to loyalty
NRC’s research found that what happens after the encounter is just as important – and healthcare organizations are not currently meeting consumers’ expectations.
Seventy percent of discharge-related patient comments were negative, with Millennials and Generation Z consumers feeling this dissatisfaction more acutely. Additionally, expectations on the timeliness of healthcare follow-ups sharply increases in the event of a service mishap. According to the research, nearly 75 percent of consumers expect follow-up within two days of a service problem, and after just one week, 66 percent of consumers say that an unaddressed service issue is “irreparable.”
Out-of-Industry examples offer guidance for improving experience
Another smart strategy for hospitals and health systems in today’s value-based market is to pay close attention to what other consumer-facing industries and non-traditional players are doing to improve the customer experience. While healthcare is unable to move as nimbly as its start-up and technology contemporaries, the closer care encounters come to the frictionless experiences of digital service companies, the better patient perceptions will become.
The NRC Healthcare Consumer Trends Report looked at more than two million consumer voices from NRC Health’s Customer Intelligence Platform. The report is available for download.