Currently, healthcare websites offer limited information to consumers, and most aren’t anywhere near the top search engine results for consumer healthcare issues. Consumers are turning to millions of other service-based sites that rank high in search engine results, such as WebMD, for healthcare information where insurance sites not only fall short- they miss the mark entirely. Even sites like WebMD are beginning to be placed in second chair to Social Networking sites. Only a few health insurance companies have recognized and acted upon this need.
As a result, health insurance websites that focus on offering information will position themselves in the marketplace as invaluable resources for consumers. As more research is done over the internet to find service, quality and cost information of doctors, hospitals and insurance plans, the healthcare industry must respond and engage those demands- or be left behind.
Companies thus far have poured resources into the bread and butter of transaction-based online tools, but have failed to serve the customer or even bring them to the table. It’s long been established that the internet is information-based, and instead of that changing as may have been predicted, it’s holding true.
Consumers want accurate information tailored to meet their questions. Fortunately, healthcare companies have access to that information- but have yet to offer it in efficient, easy-to-use tools for the web.
WebMD’s physician finder has gained amazing popularity. Priority Health also has a Find-A-Doctor tool that rates the doctors in their network. Consumers will find even greater benefits as providers offer more specific and personalized information in a similar way. It’s not just a good idea- it’s the future of healthcare companies that want to position themselves for growth.
Engaging consumers with accurate, relevant data will not only meet consumer needs to be informed, but will create an online service level of trust in companies that take the initiative to offer more than they expect, with complete accuracy.
Engaging consumers online is as simple and complex as reading their minds. Thanks to the internet, that’s easy. Search engine data like Google Analytics show just that- what healthcare consumers are searching for. Social Media search sites like Social Mention provided insight into exactly what consumers are saying across the social web. Companies’ customer service records also provide exact questions consumers ask regularly that would be more cost-effective to answer online.
Combining these questions into one data-driven search tool is the answer. Consumers will find more information in one place and have their specific questions answered, which in turn increases company trust and consumer plan satisfaction, and causes customer-service costs to fall significantly.
As consumer demand for more then just a quote from health plan websites. Health plans will come to realize the valuable of being customer centric.
As the cost of healthcare rises, many agree the focus should be centered on the cost of care. One model that is being discussed in the Medical Home Model also known as patient centered medical home model. This model rewards physician for keeping patients health and out of the hospital.
The concept of the medical home has been kicked around for over forty years. Yet, the flavor the is currently being debated requires that both patients and primary care physician educate themselves. Regarding how this program would benefit all parties involved. Technology is a primary reason that even now this model could possibly be implemented.
A key to the success of this program is keeping patients highly involved in their care. One online resource that facilities patient engagement is howsyourhealth.org. This website educates patients and allows them to fill out an online health survey that becomes a starting point for their electronic health records. The website does not look like a web 2.0 site or for that matter a professional website that you would expect to see in 2009. However, over 100,00 people have used this site to provide medical information to their doctors. 695 of the users of this website are female and 33% of the sites users are over 50 years old.
While much debate will continue around this model, patients will continue to have an active role in the management of their healthcare and the internet will become the hub for both patients and physicians to exchange information.