Online engagement rising: 12 trends of today's healthcare consumer

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As the healthcare industry continues to invest in tools to increase consumer engagement, consumers are taking the bait and becoming more involved in their care. New findings from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions 2015 Survey of U.S. Health Care Consumers indicate consumer engagement is trending upwards in three key areas: partnering with providers, using online resources and relying on technology.

Here are 12 trends and things to know about healthcare consumers' online engagement.

Partnering with providers
1. Today's consumers prefer to partner with their healthcare providers instead of solely relying on providers to make healthcare and treatment decisions. This preference has been rising since 2008, when 40 percent of consumers surveyed said they preferred to partner with providers. In 2012 that went up to 44 percent, and now it is at 48 percent.

2. Approximately one-third of consumers believe providers should encourage patients to research and ask questions about their treatment.

3. The majority of survey respondents (58 percent) believe providers should explain treatment costs before any decisions are made.

4. While many consumers support this collaboration with providers, few report actually doing so. Just 16 percent of respondents said they asked their providers to consider alternate treatment options, and 19 percent said they asked about treatment pricing.

Tapping online resources
5. Consumers are increasingly using and trusting online health information. More than half of respondents (52 percent) reported searching for health- or care-related information online. Additionally, millennials, individuals in higher income brackets and people with coverage through the public exchanges have the highest rates of online research.

6. While consumers still mainly trust physicians for reliable information about their health options, their trust in other healthcare bodies, such as pharmacies, health plans and life sciences companies, is also on the rise.

7. Twenty-five percent of consumers compare provider, hospital or health plan performance using online scorecards in 2015, up from 19 percent in 2013.

8. Additionally, consumers are more interested than ever in finding cost and pricing information online. Of consumers who report receiving care, 16 percent report searching for cost information online in 2015, compared to 11 percent in 2013.

Relying on technology
9. The percentage of consumers using technology to measure fitness and health goals has risen from 17 percent in 2013 to 28 percent in 2015.

10. Sixty-three percent of technology users said their use of the technology led to a significant change in their behavior. That number jumps to 70 percent for people with chronic conditions and to 77 percent for millennials.

11. However, just four in 10 consumers report sharing their fitness or monitoring information with their providers. Those who haven't believe their providers won't be interested (26 percent), would rather keep the information private (17 percent) or they don't know how to download, printer or transfer the information (11 percent).

12. Millennials appear to be interested in electronic treatment alerts or reminders, with the use of such growing from 14 percent in 2013 to 29 percent in 2015. For the overall population, growth in such alerts went from 9 percent in 2013 to 13 percent in 2015.

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