Online health information is about the right Place at the right Time

An Altarum Institute survey found that most consumers seek health care information from providers, friends and family, and online searches. Of all information types, consumers are most dissatisfied with health care cost information . This is especially true for lower-income and uninsured consumers.


Key Finding : Consumers demand cost information and mobile-friendly websites

  • Consumers’ top priorities for improving their health care experiences overall are having the ability to easily see costs before a visit, and having more doctors covered by their insurance.
  • The uninsured especially prioritize seeing costs before a visit (71%), while Medicaid beneficiaries and Spanish speakers prioritize more doctors being accepted by their insurance (64%) and (59%).
  • Consumers report that the services they would find especially useful are easy online booking; easy comparisons of procedures and facilities, including price and quality; and plain language explanations. 

    Key Finding : Caregivers use the most health care information but struggle to find resources to help themselves

  • Caregivers, especially of children with complex medical needs, are superusers of health care information tools. They rely on information resources at double to triple the rate of non-caregivers.
  • Caregivers feel overburdened and stressed; 16% of caregivers of adults rate their stress as “10 out of 10” while 24% of caregivers of children with complex medical needs rate their stress as “10 out of 10.” This is double and triple the rate for non-caregivers, respectively. 

Key Finding : Patients who feel disrespected by providers are less likely to trust health care information or follow medical advice

    • Many consumers feel disrespected by providers, especially the uninsured (32% feel disrespected), those who are in poorer health (22% feel disrespected), and those with lower incomes (18% feel disrespected)
    • 35% of lower-income consumers who are in poorer health with private insurance feel disrespected by providers.
    • Consumers who feel disrespected by providers are three times more likely to not believe doctors are accurate sources of information than consumers who do feel respected.
    • Consumers who feel disrespected by providers are twice as likely to not be adherent to their medication protocols. Diabetics who do not feel respected are one third more likely to have poorly controlled diabetes than diabetics who do feel respected by providers.


While the survey does have some valuable insights it has been my experience, through qualitative and quantitative research, that cost, while important, is not a key driver in online health information.  Patients want to know first and foremost “how will this treatment affect me?”, especially when it comes to quality of life.  When comparing treatments patients will consider cost, but to them the key decision makers are their HCP’s recommendation and likelihood that it will allow them to treat their health problem with the smallest amount of inconvenience.

Cost is certainly an issue, but it depends on the health issue being treated and the patient’s insurance costs.



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