Infectious diseases motivate friendly health care workers and clients looking forward to moving forward

• The pandemic accelerated the demand for more consumer-friendly healthcare services, including telemedicine visits, online scheduling, and mobile registrations to reduce wait times. This emerges from a new report by Kaufman Hall.

• Vendors unable to sustain these changes, or whose services have limited scope, capacity, or functionality, will have a difficult time competing with vendors with more options or new players with retail experience, including CVS Health and Walmart, according to the report.

• The proportion of consumers who are actively involved in researching the price of their care products is also increasing. Millennials in particular are more comfortable shopping with traditional vendors, telemedicine providers, and retail clinics than previous generations, according to the report.

Providers suffered historic financial losses this year due to home ordering and were rapidly adopting virtual care platforms, which consumers liked primarily for convenience.

As they work to attract patients and restore lost volumes, providers must improve access, experience, pricing, and infrastructure to meet patient needs and compete with other providers.

The Kaufman Hall report, based on six consumer surveys of 500 respondents each, conducted monthly from April to September, found that patients are increasingly price-sensitive when choosing where to care.

The Group’s consumer purchase capitalization value, which measures the percentage of commercially insured patients who have actively purchased health care based on price and the incentive to choose a cheaper option, has increased to more than 11% in recent years two years.

The results come as CMS introduces new pricing transparency rules that require hospitals to publicly disclose how much they charge for services as of January 1, 2020.

However, patients are often motivated to change providers based on their location. This was found in another recent survey of 1,000 respondents from DocASAP, which sells a platform for patient access and engagement.

Other key factors are whether a provider is available for telehealth and face-to-face visits and whether they are available on short notice.

Waiting too long for a doctor is the biggest barrier respondents face when seeking care. Other hurdles include the ability to schedule appointments only during business hours and the general difficulty of finding the right doctor.

Patients find information about providers primarily through a health plan system or website, rather than through search engines, social media, or family recommendations. This was the result of the DocASAP survey.

They use health plan websites to schedule appointments, check coverage, find providers online, and compare the cost of a procedure or doctor’s visit.

Consumers continue to rely heavily on virtual tours, although less compared to the peaks this spring. However, an ongoing shift toward more virtual tours poses a challenge for providers planning their future service mix while trying to make up for lost revenue.

Providers may have to budget for lower payments for telemedicine visits if CMS withdraws pandemic-related waivers to reimburse for these services, the Kaufman Hall report warned.

And when lower repayment rates become a reality, they really need to rethink their business models.

“Given the relatively low margins in the hospital industry, the lack of business has an overwhelming impact on the organization’s finances,” the consultancy report said.

“The reality of reduced reimbursement rates requires the development of a more agile business model and changes in personal service levels and capabilities. On the cost side, with a large and permanent shift towards telehealth, hospitals can reconsider some real estate costs and facilities. “