Posted by Heather Fernandez, November 05, 2019 (last updated on November 14, 2019)
Over the past decade, the growth of on-demand services in every industry have raised our expectations of both service levels and efficiency. We’ve come to expect a ride at a click of a button, dinner delivered to our doorstep, and a package’s arrival in a single day. This is especially true with young Americans who have grown up in an on-demand world.
At the same time, this generation of mobile-phone-wielding young people is now managing independently managing healthcare for their families. In 2019, nearly 90% of new parents are Millennials1 and bring the same on-demand expectations to healthcare that they find in every other part of their life.
And while consumer expectations for healthcare are changing, our interactions with the healthcare system haven’t changed much. As a result, people are seeking out more convenient and consumer-oriented ways to manage healthcare, and in many instances relying on urgent care clinics, retail clinics, and emergency rooms to be their first stop for medicine.
At Solv, we believe in enabling convenient care for everyone and spend the majority of our time understanding what consumers want from the healthcare system. Today, we’re revealing new survey findings focused on how consumer expectations around healthcare have evolved and how these new expectations are impacting everyday habits and behaviors. An extra focus for our research was placed on Millennials, whose higher expectations from the healthcare systems is creating a convenient healthcare revolution.
We surveyed 2,000 Americans with SurveyMonkey about their healthcare habits and here’s what we found:
1. Inconvenience is now a “deal breaker” when going to the doctor.
Gone are the days of booking an appointment weeks in advance, adding a reminder to the calendar and just waiting for the day to come. 85% of people consider it a “deal-breaker” if they can’t be seen in the next week by a doctor. Younger patients (Millennials and Gen Z) have an even higher standard, third (34%) of them expect to be seen within the next day.
We have an app for just about everything, but only a shocking 6% of people currently manage their healthcare through a mobile app, however a majority (61%) say that they would do this if they could. This huge disparity shows just how far behind healthcare is in comparison to just about every other industry. Overall, Millennials said they find it easier to get a date than a doctor’s appointment.
We’re seeing that younger generations are also prioritizing convenience - things like being able to book an appointment online or email with their doctor - over other aspects of healthcare. While 88% of baby boomers and 73% of Gen X patients have relationships with primary care doctor, only half of Millennials and Gen Z have a relationship with their primary care doctor.
2. If it’s not convenient, people will visit the ER despite high costs (or they’ll skip care altogether)
Ever think about going to the doctor for an everyday health issue and then decide it’s not worth the hassle of finding a doctor or making an appointment? You aren’t alone. More than half of people (56%) have actually skipped going to the doctor because it wasn’t convenient enough – and the number is slightly higher with younger patients. While about half of the time (55%) it was for a minor issue, the other 45% of the time it was something considered somewhat serious or serious. What’s more alarming, 45% of people said that skipping care had an impact on their overall health.
When you genuinely need a doctor’s appointment, sometimes an emergency room is seen as an easy way to get in front of a provider today - even if it isn’t necessarily an emergency. 31% of people who have gone to the emergency room said they did so simply because it was the more convenient option. Research indicates that up to half of the 137 million emergency room visits that take place annually in the U.S. could be treated at a care site other than the emergency room.2 It’s no surprise, but this trend spikes with younger generations, and especially younger people with children: over half of Millennial parents (55%) who have gone to the emergency room did so because of convenience and because the emergency room was open after hours and on weekends.
In all cases, people would have preferred an alternative to the ER: almost two thirds of respondents (65%) would have preferred a same-day urgent care appointments if they knew that was an option. This shows that while convenience is a priority, people aren’t always sure what convenient options are available to them – and unknowingly choose pricier emergency room visits over urgent care, where the cost is just a small copay.
3. Consumer expectations have resulted in a spike of urgent care usage
While some may not realize that urgent care is a fast, convenient alternative to the ER, urgent care is becoming increasingly popular for the convenience and timeliness that it offers people. More than two thirds (68%) of people have used urgent care at some point in their lives – and the two main reasons come down to convenience and how fast the patient can be seen. Millennial parents are participating in this trend more than any other group, with 80% having visited urgent care.
As people increasingly rely on urgent care, it’s important that they’re having positive experiences at the facilities that they visit and with the doctors that they’re seeing. Luckily, more than three quarters of people (76%) say that their experience at urgent care or a clinic was the same or better than their primary care doctor.
4. The biggest obstacle that remains: people find health insurance more confusing than taxes
While finding care and booking appointments is a major pain point in healthcare, there is another area that is riddled with even more confusion and misunderstanding. Our study found that people find their health insurance more confusing than both their taxes and understanding their credit score.
Not only is it confusing, but the current resources and tools available are also thought to be unhelpful and inaccurate. The majority of Americans (52%) feel like their insurance company is not on their side, a number that goes up with age. Meanwhile, two-thirds of people (66.26%) feel like they have received an incorrect medical bill and half of patients (52%) have been surprised by their insurance coverage.
Not only are people confused by their coverage, but there is confusion in where to go to find basic information. Over half (55%) of Gen Z doesn’t know what kind of health insurance plan they have. Almost a third (31%) of people with high deductible plans find it difficult to track their progress toward their deductible.
At Solv, we believe healthcare should be more transparent and convenient. We’re taking the first step by giving consumers greater visibility into their healthcare through our new insurance tracking. Solv users have asked for this, and already more than 850,000 consumers have added their insurance card to Solv to better understand their coverage and benefits. Try out the new Solv app, which is available in the iPhone App Store today.
- Goldman Sachs, Millennial Moms, US Department of Health and Human Services, Goldman Sach Global Investment Research, 2015.
- Niska 2010, Young et al. 1996, Weinick, Burns, and Mehrotra 2010, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2011.