Consumers Want Better Digital Tools for Finding Health Care: Survey

July 20, 2022 | 4 min Read
  • Optum survey shows consumer expectations for accessing care have transformed, calling for improvements in the ‘digital front door’ for providers and health plans

  • • Consumers reveal opportunities for providers and health plans to modernize care-seeking experiences to attract and retain patients and members.

  • • Payers and providers should shore up their websites, portals and mobile applications.

  • • Survey respondents want faster, easier access to insurance information about providers and to health care.  

  • • More than a third of consumers are not satisfied with their ability to schedule an in-person or telehealth appointment online.

A growing number of health care consumers prefer more seamless digital experiences in scheduling and interacting with their health care provider and health plan, according to the results of a survey Optum announced today.

Many of these consumers, especially younger adults, are not satisfied with their current experience, the survey showed. These results highlight opportunities for providers and health plans to attract and retain consumers, patients and members by reducing friction in interactions with those seeking care.

Survey responses from more than 1,000 consumers explain how providers and payers can optimize consumer satisfaction by adapting their patient access strategies and tools such as the “digital front door” of online portals, websites and mobile applications.

Consumers share care access preferences

Providers seeking to attract patients through access to care should focus on optimizing for location, hours, appointment availability and channels of care, according to the survey. Consumer expectations for these care access factors are not being fully met, the survey indicated.

For example, both providers and payers have an opportunity to become more competitive for patients and members by improving online scheduling. Currently, 74% of patients schedule their appointments over the phone or in person but 36% would prefer to schedule online with either their provider or health plan. This gap in expectations is even more acute for consumers ages 25 to 34: 45% prefer online scheduling but only 28% do so today.

The survey indicated other enhancements to websites, portals and mobile applications that could bolster patient and member acquisition and loyalty. Only 57% of respondents were satisfied with their ability to schedule telehealth appointments. When it came to finding information for a provider such as gender, race or licenses, only 58% were satisfied.

How to help avoid missed appointments

Since 52% of consumers missed a scheduled health care appointment in the past year, providers and payers should evaluate their appointment reminders for impact on the patient experience. One-third of consumers who missed their appointments said it was because they simply forgot, which was the reason given most frequently. Two years ago, the No. 1 reason was COVID-19.

“The pandemic has accelerated consumer interest in online scheduling, virtual visits and follow-up,” said Puneet Maheshwari, co-founder and CEO of DocASAP at Optum. “We see this trend increasing and creating more opportunities for providers and payers to make patient care access simple and convenient, which is not always the case today. At DocASAP, we are working to put the user at the center of their care through personalized digital solutions — now and long past the next wave post-pandemic.”

DocASAP, part of Optum, is a patient access and engagement platform for health systems, health plans and physician groups. These technology services empower organizations to navigate patients to the optimal provider and care setting at the right time throughout their access journey, helping improve outcomes, reduce costs and create a better patient experience.

To learn more, including age-bracket breakdowns on consumer preferences for care access, email Optum for a report on the consumer survey.

Survey methodology

Commissioned by Optum, the survey of consumer views on patient access was conducted using Qualtrics software between Jan. 25 - Feb. 15, 2022. Feedback was obtained from 1,003 consumers of varying ages who had a medical appointment in the past year and completed the survey: 31% ages 25-34, 18% ages 35-44, 15% ages 45-54, 36% ages 55-64. Respondents were 54% female, 45% male, and 1% non-binary. Qualtrics and all other Qualtrics product or service names are registered trademarks or trademarks of Qualtrics, Provo, Utah.

About Optum

Optum is a leading information and technology-enabled health services business dedicated to helping make the health system work better for everyone. With more than 210,000 people worldwide, Optum delivers intelligent, integrated solutions that help to modernize the health system and improve overall population health. Optum is part of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH). For more information, visit