Survey: Consumers want insurers to be more tech-savvy, find new ways to engage them

By Heather Mack

It should come as no shock to anyone that consumers want more from health insurers, but what exactly do they want? For starters, they need health insurers to develop new ways of interacting with them, according to a recent survey by health technology company Health Edge and market consulting company Porter Research.

In an online survey of 2,500 people across the United States who had health insurance coverage who were at least 24 years old, most say they want their organizations to communicate them on the levels of other industries, both in terms of convenience and clarity.

Nearly 90 percent of respondents said that their health plan could be doing a better job of communicating their total financial responsibility. Unlike travel, bank accounts or transportation, which provides consumers with easy-to-use-tools like mobile apps and intuitive web portals, health insurers were poorly rated by comparison, the report said.

Lagging in tech-savviness isn’t going unnoticed by members. Fifty-seven percent of survey respondents said they actually lose confidence in their health plan because it may still use outdated technology, an answer especially favored by millenials.

“Technology savvy people consistently rate the healthcare industry’s customer service as worse against many other industries — twice as often as those who consider themselves less tech savvy,” the report said. “The most dramatic survey result shows that 71% of tech savvy respondents rate online shopping customer service as better than that of health plans and 64% of the same group rate customer service provided by the travel industry more favorably than health plans.”

Health plans are also missing out on chances to support members with chronic conditions. Only 8 percent of respondents report participating in a condition-specific support group resulting from a referral from their health plan, such as on online social network or coaching app.

There are other opportunities for health plans to engage their members, the report found, as tech-savvy millenials look for indication that their health plan is noticing their efforts. Incentives for health behaviors, including diet and exercise, have been very popular among consumers, with 42 percent responding they are very interested in taking part. However, 48 percent reported their health plan is offering none of these benefits.

“Personalized health insurance is a rapidly emerging reality and the health plans that embrace their members as individuals will enjoy a long and prosperous relationship with those members,” the report said.