Consumers increasingly embrace tools to comparison shop for healthcare: survey 

Medical bill healthcare cost price patient spending
A new Deloitte survey compares global health consumer behaviors. (Getty/everydayplus)

Consumers are increasingly interested in using tools to price shop for care, particularly in countries where they face high out-of-pocket costs, a new global survey shows. 

Deloitte released its annual global healthcare consumer survey, and found that 49% of American consumers said they would likely take advantage of a tool that allows them to directly compare pricing between providers. 

In addition, 53% of U.S. consumers said they would likely use tools that allow them to compare quality and satisfaction scores, and 50% said they would likely examine data on safety and effectiveness for certain medications or treatments, according to the survey. 

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The Deloitte researchers noted that this trend held true especially in countries where consumers are often hit with high out-of-pocket costs for healthcare services. 

“There’s pressure again from consumers who want to shop easier,” David Betts, principal at Deloitte and national leader for consumer transformation for the health provider sector, told FierceHealthcare. “I think that’s a barrier in the United States, in particular, for us to overcome.” 

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The number of American consumers who use these tools is growing steadily, according to the survey, nearly doubling over the past three years from 14% to 27%. The more patients embrace these tools, the more they’re likely to consider switching providers or devices for lower cost or higher quality options, the researchers said. 

Other findings of note from the survey include: 

  • Many patients are comfortable telling their docs they disagree. The survey found that 35% of American patients would “very likely” tell their doctors they disagree with them, with an additional 23% saying they are “extremely likely to do so. 

Just 5% said they were “not at all likely” to tell their docs they disagree. Betts said this finding is notable because it’s likely that plenty of patients disagree with their physicians—but the willingness to speak up is telling. 

“That implies a very high level of agency in my mind,” he said. “That’s having consumers who have a high degree of agency and empowerment in their health, and who are going to be an agent in the system to drive fundamental change.” 

  • The U.S. isn’t necessarily ahead of the pack on digital health. Certain countries, such as Singapore, actually outpace the United States in the uptake of digital health tools, according to the survey. 

The survey also threw cold water on the idea that American patients may be more empowered or informed—instead, numbers were quite similar across the included countries, the survey found. 

“There are other countries out there leading the pack in certain ways,” Betts said. “Not only are we not unique, we’re not always in the lead.” 

That said, U.S. patients were among the highest in satisfaction with virtual visits and other digital options, according to the survey. 

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