Mobile apps: Consumers want health plans to keep it simple

person holding an iPhone

Insurers and technology startups have introduced hundreds of healthcare apps in recent years, many aimed at revolutionizing the healthcare experience, but a recent Strategy& survey finds that consumers have less lofty preferences.

To maximize return on investment in new technologies, insurers should focus on simple digital products and services, according to the survey.

The survey, conducted by PwC’s strategy consulting arm, asked more than 500 consumers to rank 15 technology-enabled features they would like their health plans to provide. The top four features were all basic: An out-of-pocket cost estimator, simple access to health records, mobile post-care instructions and follow-up notifications and online appointment scheduling with in-network providers.

The last of the “most preferred” features would require tighter integration with providers, as consumers desire a central portal to manage payments to both insurers and providers, according to the survey report.

Meanwhile, consumers ranked the two fitness tracker-related features as “not as important,” including linking data from wearables to health records and receiving wearables/remote monitoring devices from their health plan, according to the report.

Online care-financing consultation, interactive tools for self-diagnosis, and health and wellness goal management programs rounded out the five least-desired features.

For health plans, the challenge lies in balancing apps and technology that improve quality and reduce system cost with what consumers want, notes the report. Transformative features currently fall far behind basic access and collaborative tools, with 94 percent of those surveyed choosing options that increase utility and transparency over more clinical features such as telemedicine or in-home blood testing.

Notably, privacy is not a primary consideration for the great majority of consumers. About 97 percent of the surveyed consumers said that they would share personal health data and nonsensitive information if it would improve their care.

- read the Strategy& report