Solving the American healthcare industry’s longstanding crisis of quality and affordability means reinventing the way healthcare is delivered and paid for. There are several potential pathways to that reinvention, including an influx of new players from technology and other adjacent sectors, vertical and horizontal integration, and – crucially – a migration of many forms of care to newer, cheaper, more convenient venues, driven by consumer needs and preferences.
We have seen a proliferation in recent years of med-tech companies, health-related apps, consumer-focused new entrants such as Oscar, and harder-to-classify innovators such as the Amazon-Berkshire Hathaway-JPMorgan healthcare venture. And there have been many high-profile examples of horizontal and vertical consolidation, including Cigna-Express Scripts, CVS-Aetna, Walmart-Humana, and Catholic Health Initiatives-Dignity Health.
More than one-third of individuals who have used a retail clinic in the past year said the experience was better than a traditional doctor's office
But this flurry of new companies and deals mostly reflects progress on the supply side. What about demand? Are consumers making the transition to new forms of care and bringing their collective buying power to bear on reforming healthcare? Given that out-of-pocket costs have risen 230 percent over the past decade, one would think they should.
In our new 2018 Consumer Survey of US Healthcare, we looked closely at the disconnect between the supply and demand side of healthcare, paying particular attention to whether consumers were using the “new front door” of healthcare, and if not, why not. We explored what consumers want out of the healthcare system and what they would be willing to pay for – either in dollars or in personal data. (We also included questions on health insurance, which led to the striking finding that large numbers of consumers don’t want the high-deductible plans they’re increasingly buying. See Sidebar on page 6 of the full report.)
Here is what we learned:
Key Takeaway: Those who have tried alternative forms of healthcare delivery are happy with them. Despite that finding, there hasn’t been much change in the number of consumers – about 10 percent – who have actually used the new front door, though the number who say they are willing to try is rising sharply.
Key Takeaway: Trust and comfort remain obstacles to the adoption of a newer model of healthcare, though these issues play out in a more complex fashion than we perhaps expected.
Key Takeaway: There is indeed a hunger for a new healthcare experience, but what consumers want is not what most companies in healthcare are offering. This suggests if consumers are not yet buying, it’s because industry offerings are not yet compelling enough to overcome consumer resistance.