Consumers have more ways to obtain care than ever—including, for example, grocery store retail clinics and video chats with clinicians via smartphone.
Access to traditional care settings also is increasing, with the number of urgent care establishments nationwide estimated to grow 32 percent from 2014 to 2019. This is great for convenience, a key healthcare experience feature valued across consumer segments, according to a 2018 HRI report on customer experience.
But this “care anywhere and everywhere” trend also is driving utilization, making it an inflator for 2019.
While the short-term result of increased access may be increased utilization, payers and employers hope that access will reduce costs in the long term by detecting and treating health concerns early and shifting care from higher-cost environments to those that cost less. Achieving appropriate utilization will require employers, payers and providers to strike a balance between access and convenience to avoid delaying care or creating unnecessary demand.