It’s no secret that patients are facing high financial responsibility for their care. According to a JAMA study, out-of-pocket costs have skyrocketed by 111% since 2010, with another study projecting a 10% increase each year through 2026. These rising care costs have a significant impact on the way Americans access healthcare and can even deter patients from moving forward with lifesaving treatments. The result? Delayed care, abandoned prescriptions – and ultimately worse health outcomes, to put it simply.
Fortunately, thousands of financial assistance programs exist to help patients offset costs. According to our own research and data, these programs offer a whopping $58 billion in available funding. However, utilization rates among providers, retail pharmacies, and specialty pharmacies remain low. So, what can be done to improve access to these resources and effectively address the affordability challenges plaguing the industry?
Leaning into Consumer Trends
For years, consumerism in healthcare has continued to rise. Patients crave the on-demand experiences they get in other areas of lives, such as online banking capabilities and meal delivery services apps. Our latest survey, which was completed by 1,000 U.S. adults 18+ (commissioned by TailorMed and fielded by Dynata, a global market research firm), reinforces these trends and demonstrates patients’ desire to engage digitally throughout the healthcare journey.
Many healthcare organizations have risen to the challenge of making this type of digital engagement available. In fact, when asked if their provider and pharmacy offer digital tools (i.e. online scheduling, text reminders, etc.), patients felt that they did – 49% on the provider side and 41% when it came to pharmacy. That said, larger opportunities still remain for healthcare organizations to provide patients with additional technologies to address financial barriers.
Here were four key findings and themes from our survey on healthcare consumerism and patient engagement trends:
1. Patients Want Control:
- 51% of patients say they are “very interested” in taking a more active role in their healthcare journey, and 37% are “somewhat interested” – meaning that 88% of respondents have some interest in taking that more active role.
2. Various Factors, Including Access and Affordability, Drive That Desire:
When asked what factor most motivates patients to take an active role within their healthcare journey:
- 38% said they’re motivated when provided with an easy, convenient way to interact with their doctor’s office or pharmacy.
- 34% are motivated because they believe their involvement will help improve their health and well-being.
- 17% are motivated considering how much money they’re spending on medications and treatment.
3. Patients Are Eager to Understand and Lower Their Costs:
When asked how important it is that their doctor’s office or pharmacy helps them understand their medication/treatment costs and gives them a convenient way to pay their bills:
- 74% of respondents said this is “very important.”
- 21% said “somewhat important.”
- This means that 95% of surveyed patients place some level of importance on understanding their financial responsibility.
Half of surveyed patients are seemingly aware that financial assistance programs exist, but many don’t know how to access them:
- 33% said they are aware that financial assistance programs exist but have never tried to find more information or enroll in a program.
- 17% said they are aware financial assistance programs exist and have tried to find more information. However, they are not sure if they qualify or how to enroll.
- 20% said they are not aware financial assistance programs exist, nor do they know how to access them.
4. Patients Are Willing to Embrace Tech:
When asked how interested they would be in using mobile technology to find and enroll in financial assistance for their medications:
- 38% of respondents said they’d be “very interested.”
- 35% said “somewhat interested.”
- This means that there is some level of interest for 73% of respondents.
More than half (70%) of patients report some level of comfort using digital health tools:
- 41% said they consider themselves “very technologically savvy.”
- 29% said they consider themselves “somewhat technologically savvy.”
Patients are ready and willing to take a more hands-on approach in their healthcare journey. They’re also open to using digital tools when interacting and engaging with healthcare providers and pharmacies – especially when it can help address affordability and cost concerns. It is now up to healthcare entities to ensure patients not only have effortless access to these tools, but that they feel empowered to improve their ability to afford care.
To learn more about how TailorMed can help your organization empower patients to find financial assistance, please reach out to our team.