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Healthcare loyalty: perception is paramount

What makes consumers loyal to their healthcare plans? The consumer’s perception of quality medical care, says new study.

The main driver of loyalty to health insurers is the customer’s belief that the insurer provides better care than its competitors. This is revealed in the first US national study designed to explore consumer loyalty in healthcare. The study was conducted by customer research and relationship marketing specialists, HSM Group and funded by the Bayer Corporation.

Next came medical treatment and services that meet members needs, no service problems with the plan, the relationship with a doctor, choice of specialists, availability of primary care physician and reasonable monthly payments. What is interesting about this is that the patient’s perception of the quality of care has more influence than actual good service, although the former clearly depends on the latter.

The study found that only about 12% of consumers are highly loyal to their health plans, while some 20% are loyal to their physicians. But loyalty to the plan is a better predictor of member retention than loyalty to the physician.

According to HSM’s president, Sheryl Bronkesh, “Health plans should heed this research and continue to work tirelessly to improve the quality and continuity of care delivered to their members. Health care organizations’ core competency – the provision of medical care and treatment – is paramount to consumers’ enrolment decisions.”

Telephone interviews with more than 2,000 consumers with health care insurance  were conducted in ten US Metropolitan Statistical Areas.

For information on HSM’s National Loyalty Study findings, visit www.hsmgroup.com

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