Many consumers don't trust health plans to offer accurate provider information: Ribbon Health

Health plans have some work to do when it comes to building trust with consumers, a new survey shows.

OnePoll and Ribbon Health, a provider data management platform, surveyed 1,000 consumers across the U.S. on their attitudes toward healthcare and found that 62% do not trust their health plan to provide accurate care options should they search for services.

The survey found that a major factor is the challenges patients face in accessing data. One-third of those surveyed said that they had a negative healthcare experience because the provider information on their health plan's website was not accurate. The study noted that more than half of provider listings have at least one piece of inaccurate information. 

"For decades, people have accepted inconveniences like not knowing how much their healthcare bill will cost or a lack of basic information about the provider treating them," said Nate Maslak, CEO and co-founder of Ribbon, in the press release. "Care seekers are just like consumers in any other industry, and they deserve insight into metrics like cost, reviews, quality ratings and the many other important factors we consider when making a big purchase."

"This type of information is standard in other industries, and it comes as no surprise that Americans are craving better information in order to make informed healthcare decisions. Improved, transparent data provides an opportunity to connect people with providers and health plans they can trust," Maslak added.

And while this trust barrier persists, consumers view their health plan as key to having a positive experience with healthcare, according to the survey. More than half (53%) said that a health plan that fits their needs is one of the most important factors to that experience, beating out other factors such as having a physician with a good bedside manner, feeling better quickly and securing an appointment quickly on the survey.

The study found that just 28% of consumers are very likely to use their health plan's site to search for a provider. When asked to rate that experience from one to five, only 30% said a five, the highest possible satisfaction score on the survey.

The survey found that 66% of those surveyed would trust their health plan more if the provider information they offered online was more accurate.

What are patients expecting from an improved experience using their health plan's website to find care? Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed said they want to be able to access more local in-network healthcare options, which providers are accepting new patients and where appointments may be available. In addition, 35% said they'd like to be able to find information about providers' qualifications and 33% would like to see their quality ratings.

The report offers several actions insurers can take to improve online access to data, including:

  1. Conduct internal audits and/or external surveys to benchmark the quality and accuracy of data available.
  2. Re-examine data sources as well as intake processes, such as how data is validated, to determine where there may be manual interventions needed and if the process is scalable.
  3. Consider the bandwidth of the internal team and find potential areas where this work could be outsourced or automated.