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December 16, 2020
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David Burda
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More on COVID-19 and Healthcare Consumerism

Something is awakening in patients that access, cost and quality challenges couldn’t but the threat of a deadly virus with uncontrolled community spread could. That something is healthcare consumerism.

We suspected as much and first reported our hunch in an earlier blog post, “COVID-19 Fans Flames of Consumerism in Patients,” which you can read here

Now, the evidence is building that our hunch was correct. 

On Nov. 30, Accenture released the results of its COVID-19 Consumer Health Experience Survey 2020. Accenture surveyed 4,639 adults in June, asking them how the pandemic is affecting their experience with the healthcare system. You can download a copy of the 17-page report with Accenture’s survey results here.

Here are some of the interesting results: 

  • 64 percent of the respondents said they are “likely” or “highly likely” to switch providers if their current provider doesn’t meet their expectations for handling COVID-19 
  • 24 percent of the respondents who said their current healthcare provider handled the COVID-19 crisis poorly said they wouldn’t go back to that provider for at least a year or possibly ever

“The pandemic has led to new standards for consumer needs that may remain long after the crisis has passed,” Accenture said.

On Dec. 3, Cedar, the New York-based patient financial engagement technology vendor, published its 2020 Healthcare Consumer Experience Study. Cedar surveyed 1,502 adults in October, asking them how the pandemic is affecting their experience with the healthcare system. You can download a copy of the 19-page report with Cedar’s survey results here

Here are some of the interesting results:

  • 53 percent of the respondents said they would consider switching providers if their current provider didn’t follow the appropriate COVID-19 safety protocols
  • 44 percent of the respondents said they want a telemedicine options to see their current provider to avoid in-person visits that put them at risk of COVID-29 exposure

“Despite the advances in virtual care brought on by COVID-19, providers still have a long way to go to meet consumer expectations and preferences,” Cedar said.

Also last week, the Medicare Plans Patient Resource Center published the results of its survey of 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries. The Washington-based advocacy group did its survey in November, asking the beneficiaries about their enrollment plans for 2021 and how COVID-19 may affect their plans. You can download a copy of the survey results here

Here are some of the interesting results:

  • 58 percent of the respondents said they are changing Medicare plans in 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic
  • Of those changing plans because of the pandemic, 60 percent said they want more coverage in case they get sickened by COVID, and 11 percent said they want more telemedicine benefits because of COVID

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused beneficiaries to think more about their health insurance to make sure they have the coverage they need if something were to happen to them,” the group said.

If the Accenture, Cedar and Medicare Plans Patient Resource Center surveys are correct, something is happening that limited access, high costs and poor quality struggled to move the needle on for years, and that’s patients behaving like informed and empowered consumers. Nearly 300,000 preventable deaths will do that to you, I guess. 

Thanks for reading. 

Stay home. Stay safe. Stay alive.

About the Authors

David Burda

Dave is 4sight Health’s biggest news junkie, resident journalist and healthcare historian. He began covering healthcare in 1983 and hasn’t stopped since. Dave writes his own column, “Burda on Health,” for us, contributes weekly blog posts, and manages our weekly e-newsletter and weekly podcast, 4sight Friday and 4sight Roundup.

Dave believes that healthcare is a business like any other business, and customers—patients—are king. If you do what’s right for patients, good business results will follow.

Dave’s personal experiences with the healthcare system both as a patient and family caregiver have shaped his point of view. It’s also been shaped by covering the industry for 35 years as a reporter and editor. He worked at Modern Healthcare for 25 years, the last 11 as editor.

Prior to Modern Healthcare, he did stints at the American Medical Record Association (now AHIMA) and the American Hospital Association. After Modern Healthcare, he wrote a monthly column for Twin Cities Business explaining healthcare trends to a business audience, and he developed and executed content marketing plans for leading healthcare corporations as the editorial director for healthcare strategies at MSP Communications.

When he’s not reading and writing about healthcare, Dave spends his time riding the trails of DuPage County, IL, on his bike, tending his vegetable garden and daydreaming about being a lobster fisherman in Maine. He lives in Wheaton, IL, with his lovely wife of 35 years and his three children, none of whom want to be journalists or lobster fishermen.

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