What are some actions that your physician (or your insurance provider, your pharmacy or any other health-adjacent institution with which you interact) can take to lessen the pain or frustration of your engagements with them?

The most effective way to address the clinical issue is to base pharmacy reimbursement to service levels. It’s unlikely for payors to require pharmacies to remain open longer, but it’s reasonable to link reimbursement to error rates. It would require a costly audit procedure, but that cost would hopefully be offset by improvements in costly errors. I believe that free markets will reward pharmacies with better hours of access, and hopefully an entrepreneurial chain pharmacy will explore this option. — Jay Carter, director of business development emeritus, AbelsonTaylor

What if you could do the nurse Q&A online ahead of the physician visit? Answer the questions about your concerns, symptoms and any other related or seemingly unrelated conditions. That way what you really want to share can happen ahead of the visit, leading to more trust and more productive time during the appointment. — Cheryl Maher, managing director, Ritual

A standardized approach for consumers to compare insurance plans.

Choosing healthcare coverage can be tricky. There are a lot of variables to consider. It shouldn’t take a few spins on a company website and worse yet, multiple phone calls to overwhelmed operators, to get clarity. If each carrier could have the same UX on their sites to help drive consumer education, think of the churn that could be reduced on both sides. Imagine a simple call to action – a button that is always placed in the top right corner of a homepage– that leads you to an easy-to-read PDF, formatted the same for all insurance providers. Especially for seniors, we should be approaching the insurance selection period with tools of simplicity.

Eliminate prior authorizations.

These tend to pop up on the most expensive procedures and give insurance companies the authority to decide what is medically necessary for you. This authority overrides the doctor’s recommendation. It also comes at a cost to patients left holding the bag (or wallet, as the case may be), if they trust their doctor’s opinion. I believe doctors, not insurance companies, have a better understanding of personal healthcare needs and what bodies need to properly function.  

Better knowledge-share for consumers when assessing cost and coverage.

I was immensely grateful that my doctor’s team shared the codes with me for every aspect of my hand surgery, well in advance of the procedure. It was like having a cheat sheet. What could have been a meandering call, filled with butchered medical terms, was a model of efficacy! Being able to speak the same language as an insurance representative gave me instant peace of mind. — Jessica Daponte, SVP, brand planning, ConcentricLife

My two big concerns as a healthcare consumer are being able to control my health data and experiences. From a data standpoint, I want to be able to share it with applications that can deliver benefits for my personal health as well as benefit broader research goals. And from an experience standpoint, I prefer consistency across all touchpoints, so I do not need to re-enter my personal and health information at every interaction. To enable this, healthcare companies can offer patient data lockers where patients like me can control the integration and sharing of their data in a secure manner.  Healthcare companies today can implement orchestrated omnichannel engagement approaches to make sure my interactions are personalized and relevant across all digital and human touchpoints. When done well, this will effectively lessen pain points. — Scott Snyder, chief digital officer, Eversana

-Be on time for appointments, or at least communicate when running late

-Remember that as patients, we do not have the same knowledge or level of expertise you do. Please speak to us in common terms that are easy to digest (not so technical), hear us, and don’t treat us as another number.

— Jen Cully, VP, people and development director, Greater Than One

As someone who specializes in medical and health technology, I think technology can be enormously helpful in facilitating communication, improving care and giving patients and caregivers peace of mind. Even the simplest technology can be of great value in meeting patients and caregivers where they are in their journey. Providers and health facilities can drive awareness and education, and insurers can help offset costs for things like room monitors/cameras that make it easier for caregivers to rest and be away from the patient; smart devices that support patient safety or medication compliance; and medical portals that streamline the process of requesting appointments, prescription refills or referrals.

The best experiences I have had are when the provider offers care/follow-up outside of the 15 minutes in an exam room or telehealth appointment. This type of follow-through communicates an investment in the patient’s outcome, that’s good news for patients and caregivers. — Edie DeVine, EVP, global medical and health technology lead, GCI Health

  1. Strengthen access by ensuring that the major EMRs (e.g., EPIC) offer interconnectivity – interoperability – enabling consumers to connect their varied EMRs to one platform that shows upcoming appointments, diagnostic test results and must-watch health factors.  Private systems such as Seqster offer that possibility is not a dream and a potential life-enhancing reality. Make sure the consumer has information parity for their physician visits. 
  1. Make care convenient for patients and health providers by ensuring that telehealth appointments are part of a hybrid care program so that appointments that do not require sitting in a waiting room become convenient and patient-centric and make sure that health providers don’t have to choose between full and partial reimbursement for their time. Telemedicine should not be hanging on the thread of a Congressional whim or vote.  
  1. Continue to support new point-of-care diagnostic options so that straightforward blood exams can be handled at local pharmacies before a physician visit. That information can be part of the physician-patient care conversation instead of an after-the-fact follow-up call or visit.

— Gil Bashe, managing partner, chair, global health and purpose, Finn Partners

To lessen the pain, HCPs can make patients feel like they truly matter by designing personalized patient support programs that provide a superior customer experience and connect with patients authentically by considering their unique health needs. Secondly, they can increase access to HCPs by increasing telehealth and online scheduling options. Finally, they can simplify billing and insurance processes by increasing price transparency and improving communication about costs and coverage. They can also simplify the billing process and provide resources to help patients understand and manage their healthcare costs. — Joanna Ruiz, managing director, Deloitte Digital

To address the pain points and frustrations encountered in engagements with healthcare institutions, three potential solutions could be considered. Firstly, developing user-friendly and transparent digital interfaces can empower patients to access relevant information and financial services with ease, thereby simplifying their healthcare journey. Secondly, promoting a holistic approach to primary care by incorporating integrated medicine practices can help healthcare providers treat patients more comprehensively, considering the various factors that influence overall health and well-being. Lastly, working towards a truly “seamless” healthcare experience that transcends specialties and geographical boundaries can create an “omnichannel” approach to healthcare, ensuring continuity of care and fostering a supportive, collaborative environment for patients and healthcare providers alike. — Chris Ozanian, chief experience officer, Juice Pharma Worldwide

There are numerous opportunities for improvement with our healthcare engagements, but three key opportunities arise based on my recent experience. These include enhanced coordination of care, more robust, yet simplified, patient education, and streamlined, easy-to-understand insurance policies and procedures. 

Our healthcare system is overwhelmed, and providers are inundated with patients and administrative complexities so they cannot be expected to effectively coordinate each patient’s care with precision. In an ideal world, we would have a patient navigator that would support and assist patients in all the touchpoints we have in the daily course of our care, helping to ensure enhanced care coordination and a deeper understanding of our health conditions and treatments.

Trying to understand and navigate insurance policies and billing for those treatments can be very confusing. Even individuals with a background in the industry, like me, find it very frustrating to understand the nuances of our insurance coverage. Payers, providers, and patients can work together, so that there is less frustration on everyone’s part. Payers can strive to simplify and streamline their policies and the way they communicate policy information, keeping health and financial literacy top of mind. Manufacturers can aid in this mission by further educating providers and patients about their products. And we as healthcare communicators can keep patient and provider needs at the forefront as we develop communication resources, ensuring they are easy to read, easy to follow, and guide the user along. With simplified and understandable information at hand, we as patients can act as our own health advocates and partner with our providers to manage our health without the many frustrations of today. — Reta Mourad, director, strategic planning, Mosaic Group

The healthcare landscape continues to become more complex, and the area of health insurance is no exception. As such, some members of my family, rightfully so, get confused and frustrated navigating their medical and drug insurance benefits. Their pain points stem from three distinct areas: (1) easily and fully understanding the benefit design options when enrolling for health insurance; (2) understanding the specifics of the explanation of benefit (EOB) statements they receive after their visit with a physician or hospital stay; and (3) engaging with the insurance company to gain clarification and resolve issues.

Insurance companies could make significant strides in easing this burden if they understood their member customers at a deeper level (attitudes, needs, behaviors) and “consumerized” their approach to communicate and engage with these customers in a less complex and more user-friendly and relevant manner. — Greg Novello, EVP, strategy, McCann Health Managed Markets

We all get a free mammogram annually whether we’re insured or not. But, once we show up to the radiology center big or small, we’re likely presented with a list of upgrades right away. $50 OOP for the newer mammogram technology. $250 OOP even with insurance to add on a sonogram if your doctor gave you an optional RX that includes one.

Pain point:

  • This results in a lot of pressure and decision making on the patient. Assessing an OOP cost at the time of a high stress appointment could often result in declining – even though that woman has already made the trip for a proactive screening effort. That woman may not know that she had dense breast tissue that could significantly benefit from enhanced technology or a sonogram screening


  • The simple solution here is accountability for education on not only the physician side but on the screening side. Every decision the system presents to a patient should be asked only after the patient is fully informed about the impact their decision may have on their health.

1-      Communication + education

2-      Proactive engagement

3-      A way for ongoing and open conversations with physician/office + coverage if faced with a question at time of appointment

— Amanda Eckel, SVP, client partnership and innovation, BGB Group

Whether we’re a patient or a caregiver, we are ill equipped to navigate the lack of a coordinated system. Short of overhauling the system for the long term, three potential things that providers can do to help patients and caregivers today include:

—Listen with empathy, probe to understand, and seek to validate. Understanding and validation goes a long way.

—Educate. Handouts on depression offer little in the way of practical help. Share a little more of your time and your knowledge and provide links to more in-depth resources and specialized support organizations.

—Provide thoughtful referrals. Yes, your office may have a list of local mental health referrals, but rather than having your staff hand patients that list on their way out the door, talk them through what you know about providers on that list and how their experience and knowledge relate to the patient’s situation. Just suggesting a good place to start would be extremely helpful. 

— Renee Willis, co-founder and client lead, Brick City Greenhouse

Affordability and access are two big pain points for everyone and I’m no exception.  Providers make a big difference if they focus on helping patients work through coverage with their insurance plan, and proactively communicate the savings program to make the medication more affordable.  As market access marketers, we focus heavily on identifying ways we can support offices in these two areas to support a successful patient experience throughout their treatment journey.  A third pain point has been finding time in the day to get to the doctor, however my PCP office offers telehealth services, and like many others, it’s been a lifesaver for me and my family! — Christine Lenthe, president, Evoke Navience

Organizations and programs at times seem to not communicate with each other, and leave it to the patient to put the pieces together. At our doctor’s request, we have to put our specialty pharmacy in touch with our manufacturer to verify programs that our doctor is suggesting we enroll in. If the organizations made it a single-step process, or just had a consistent resource who could walk us through the entire process, that would be very helpful. Another example of this: I have had to track down and send prior authorization forms from doctors to send to pharmacies or insurance providers on my own. I would have loved it if the entities just worked directly with each other. — Kaley Wagner, managing director, client operations, CrowdPharm

1.) Start covering mental health costs. This is number one above all. It is damn hard to find a good therapist, psychiatrist, in-patient or out-patient program, let alone providers that insurance covers. It leads many to avoid preventative care because it’s just so challenging, and unfortunately, that drives more people into crisis. My insurance company put me in touch with a list of hundreds of therapists, but none treated my diagnosis. After 100+ calls, I had to make the decision to choose my mental health over my financial health and have been seeing an amazing therapist for 5+ years who didn’t accept insurance. It’s so discouraging I had to choose going into deep debt just to receive the treatment I needed to function well and joyfully. 

2.) Allow time and resources for physicians to know the patient holistically. My PCP and I had an upsetting interaction where I was disappointed by her knee-jerk reaction to quickly suggest strong weight loss medication as a solution that, to me, should have been a last-resort. I had great trust in my PCP prior and addressed the issue head-on by explaining my frustration and spiral after. She in turn was honest with me in indicating she’s doing the best she can with the limited resources she has and she’s burnt out. I felt for her and many practitioners at that time. Now, I am no expert in understanding the business operations of insurance providers or health institutions, but it seems as though our practitioners are beholden to some rigidity from the business models of insurance and larger healthcare systems that force them to treat higher volumes of people vs. focus on every person as a unique individual. 

3.) Make the insurance experience more human. Everything from choosing an annual insurance plan to understanding how to submit a claim just feels so far from reach. If you’re not an HR benefits administrator or in the health field yourself, understanding the system feels really frustrating, time-consuming, sterile and cold. 

— Kelley Bolte, senior manager of talent and culture, Connelly Partners 

One of my providers has lessened this pain by simply knowing my medical history and being invested in my health. When I had a small win after a years-long diagnosis, my provider celebrated and fist-pumped with me in the exam room. She knew how frustrating the last few years had been and was genuinely happy when I was given a clean bill of health. It made me feel validated as a patient and I will be a patient of that provider’s for as long as I am able. — Shannon Bresnahan, brand supervisor, Connelly Partners Health

Our healthcare system continues to be focused on treatment vs. prevention. My PCP spends 2-3 minutes asking me if I exercise or eat my vegetables. That’s it. That isn’t prevention. Having one health care advocate who would work with me to identify life goals and healthy living habits from an early age could save the system significant dollars later in life when I’m being treated for hypertension or cancer simply because I didn’t start my healthy lifestyle early enough. — JoAnne Borselli, group brand director, Connelly Partners

1. Develop a better patient onboarding system.

2. Return patient, or prospective patient, calls and voicemails.

3. Prioritize in-person visits over virtual visits.

— Will Maslach, paid social manager, Connelly Partners

I feel as though the hand-offs from one segment of the health system are bumpy at best. To solve for this, many systems deploy digital tools to allow patients/consumers to manage their own care. However, many folks may not be as comfortable or adept at digital tools like texting or accessing portals, or they may not have the hardware. Those who don’t have those capabilities are often left to fend for themselves. I’ve seen that a number of times, especially as I support older family members as they navigate care.

On the insurance side, use plain language on your statements and benefits determinations. Passive language, lots of lingo, and confusing statements help no one and may actually be causing higher call volumes and work on your part. 

As I said, I’ve been incredibly fortunate. I have great relationships with fantastic practitioners, but I do have one suggestion: Please spend less time typing information in my EHR and more time on eye contact, conversation and my actual visit. I understand the value of the EHR, and that I benefit from its use but I sometimes feel as though my appointments are nothing more than data entry sessions. — Michele Hart-Henry, managing director, Connelly Partners Health

As a patient, I believe that healthcare providers should prioritize empathy and understanding towards their patients. It can be a difficult and overwhelming experience to receive a medical diagnosis, and having a healthcare provider who is willing to listen and provide clear, concise information can alleviate some of the stress and frustration that comes with it.

I expected more transparency from my insurance provider regarding the cost of certain medical procedures and how prices can vary depending on which hospital you choose. — Ricardo Paredes, SVP, associate creative director, Entrée Health

  1. These stakeholders could provide better clarity on the service bills, copays, and explanations of the benefits sent to the patients. The charges can be unclear for patients. Having teams proactively communicate with patients about their costs, support, and financing options would be highly beneficial. 
  1. Stakeholders at the HCP and pharmacies (be they specialty or traditional) could better collaborate to benefit their patients. Patients can often be relied on as an intermediary for communication between their care team and pharmacy. This could be for refills, renewals, or new therapy prior authorization collaborations. It can be confusing and frustrating to be put in this position and feel there’s a delay in therapy due to a lack of cooperation. 
  1. The most important thing that all these stakeholders can do for their patients is to provide them with whole patient care. When a patient has a health issue, reviewing their therapeutic options based not only on their medical history and diagnosis but also assessing their lifestyle, financial options, family situation, and accessibility to treatment should all be equally weighed in determining therapeutic options with the medical response. My life and priorities extend far beyond my medical diagnosis. 

— Caitlin Lombardi, VP, account supervisor, Entrée Health

Record the sessions so that their advice and interpretation of a condition can be reviewed after a time-constrained interaction.

Ask more questions to solve for challenges that the patient is not aware they have.

Incorporate more telehealth or local health delivery.

— Fern Lazar, managing partner, global health practice leader, Finn Partners

Continue to develop time saving tools/flows: Timesaving/automated tools makes my interactions with my healthcare universe better. These tools don’t have to be complicated or highly innovative, but things that make my engagements easier (even simple things like automated/SMS appointment confirmations) make my experience so much better and fit into a busy life more seamlessly. — Thad Bench II, chief marketing officer, Benchworks

  1. Healthcare providers could take greater measures to create healthcare teams (even informal), where a patient’s whole health is taken into account. At the PCP level, they are in a position to identify potential patterns that might indicate a deeper health issue, while specialists can offer insight into how the part of the body they focus on is being impacted in the patient. More frequent communication and collaboration would be highly beneficial for patients.
  2. There should be a concerted effort on the part of all healthcare providers to educate themselves on a more holistic and integrative approach to medicine, at the very least to expand their understanding of factors that could contribute to illnesses in parts of the body they specialize in.
  3. Insurance providers should begin exploring the benefits of integrative medicine to better understand how payers and resulting coverage plans might be put together to support a patient through a functional, integrative path.

— Janeese Carter, principal consultant, BW Consulting

Being more accessible at a time that suits me.  Six monthly virtual checkups and medication reviews.  Being able to order repeat medication through an app with home delivery. — Gavin Jones, global patient centricity lead, Open Health 

  1. Unified patient platform
  2. Better patient education materials and resources
  3. Online scheduling system and online pharmacy system with home delivery option

— Nancy Sladika, president (U.S. operations), Nucleus Holdings

Embrace familiarity (and basic overall competency through training) with digital healthcare systems/portals/apps and their application. I once tried sending a follow-up message to my doctor in the dedicated healthcare portal – I had found results from an EKG that I had forgotten I had taken two years prior. I attached the results as a PDF and asked for any implications this new data might have on my next visit … to receive no response. This created confusion and convoluted discussions at said follow-up visit. If the doctor were able to use the portal effectively, it would help reduce my own stress levels and provide me with more confidence and better overall care in less time. — Martin Jones, marketing director, Underscore

Reduce wait times for in person medical appointments.  Scheduling a 2:00 p.m. appointment and not getting seen until 2:45 can be very disruptive.

Use the full capabilities of a patient portal.  From appointment reminders to scheduling through billing – give me one place to do it all, and don’t make talking to your office on the phone between 9am-5pm my only option. Ensure that communication with your office is accessible.

Embrace telehealth.  Anything that can be done without going to a physical appointment should be. Many of the better telehealth options nowadays come from startups that are fragmented and disconnected from my primary care and hospital network.  Integrate these into the core offering either through acquisition or partnering. — Nigel Downer, SVP, head, Jack Health U.S.

I see the disconnect between physicians and patients in both my personal and professional life every day. In consumer science, we strive to make genuine connections between HCPs and their patients, empowering both groups to embrace the science and to improve their well-being. If HCPs don’t have the proper educational materials to share the science, the patient suffers. In my experience, I believe HCPs can alleviate the frustrations of complex science in the following ways:

  1. HCPs need to be aware of what their patients do or don’t know—and what society is telling them. They should stay abreast of the trends affecting their field and be informed of the white space if there are areas where medicine is currently falling short. Being knowledgeable about the disease landscape, potential treatment options (or lack of) and research opportunities can help ease patient anxiety surrounding a diagnosis; and painting the full picture for the patient can empower them to make informed decisions during their journey.  
  2. HCPs must know how to talk to their patients about the science. It’s important to not only understand a patient’s diagnosis but also to be prepared for the questions they may have. Answers that don’t resonate with consumer reality will always fall short, and inevitably, will negatively affect the patient and their relationship with the HCP.
  3. HCPs should be aware of the available, credible resources at their fingertips. With the rise of the empowered patient, HCPs are often asked about additional resources, or even more, they’re aware their patient is heading home to do more research on their own. Sharing reputable, relevant resources at the onset can help guide patients to safe, credible information that you know you can trust as a practitioner.

Our consumer science practice at Spectrum works with HCPs on a daily basis—whether it’s business-to-business (B2B) or direct-to-consumer (DTC) initiatives. Through a strategic communications approach, our teams work alongside consumer brands to understand the important relationships between HCPs and their patients and how both groups can benefit from the brand’s offerings and its rigorous science. As nuanced as it may be, understanding these conversations is a crucial step in ensuring that everyone is connected to their best “healthlife.” — Robyn Wellikoff, SVP, consumer science, Spectrum Science

Honestly, the bar is low at this point. My expectation is for anything healthcare related to be cumbersome, confusing and time intensive. 

·         Insurance Usage Tracking – clear, organized, functioning digital portal that tracks the entire usage of your plan (OOP spend, EOBs, eligibility for next annual appointments, etc.) 

·         Provider Price Transparency – prior to a service rendered, clearly understanding the cost estimate for the service, anticipated ‘extras’ and estimated coverage

·         Presentation of Options – When outlining a care plan, present pathway options along with recommended path and rationale which would help the patient weigh cost vs. treatment, avoid unnecessary procedures and feel confident their care has been thoroughly thought through and tailored to their needs.

— Siera Lyons, account supervisor, Schaefer Advertising

Since my initial experience working with an early EMR account in the first decade of this century, the challenge of interoperability has been a hurdle. Amazingly, it still is. While it’s improved, the promise of a truly patient-centric healthcare experience is still unrealized almost 20 years later. If providers and payers had a more seamless coordination of benefits, that would go a long way to alleviating a lot of personal frustration. Not to mention, the total amount of waste (friction, to borrow a term from a recent keynote at Pharma USA) in the system. — Jake Yarbrough, managing director, Schaefer Advertising

Knowing the rules from my health insurance is a pain point. A recent example was scheduling my children’s annual well visit; with limited appointments available, it was really challenging to schedule these. Once I learned I did not need to wait 365 days between annual visits and also clarified with the pediatrician’s office, I was able to get these scheduled more quickly. — Sarah Bast, EVP investment marketplace, Publicis Health Media 

Unfortunately, the pandemic exacerbated the staffing shortages in our healthcare system preventing providers from providing adequate care to patients in need when they need it. Given this public health crisis, the three things health systems can do to improve the patient journey are:

Focus on the patient experience: Oftentimes a large burden is placed on the patient and/or caregiver to schedule appointments with various providers upon diagnosis or contacting their insurance to see if a procedure will be covered. These menial tasks could be lessened or eliminated through a thoughtful analysis of core processes and procedures, reducing the burden on the patient and allowing them to focus on managing their condition.

Cost transparency: One of the most frustrating aspects of treating a condition is not knowing the cost of a procedure. The topic appears to be a game of hot potato between the insurance company and the provider’s office staff as they tend to direct the question toward each other instead of having the billing department inform the patient of cost information to help them make an informed decision about their care.

Increase health literacy: Increasing health literacy and equity in the right ways can alleviate overdependence on physicians and help patients make more confident healthcare decisions. — Jocelyn Ochinang, director of consumer and marketing intelligence analytics, Rapp

Insurance provider claims status is confusing, and it doesn’t provide timelines or where the claim is in the arc of the processing journey. I’d also like to be able to use whatever pharmacy I want but am required to use CVS. — Dawn Siegel, account director, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness 

Think about healthcare in the same way that marketers think about the customer experience.  When you go to McDonald’s, enjoy Disney theme parks or fly Southwest Airlines, they have thought about every moment, everything you see, everyone you interact with and what is offered. It is planned and orchestrated.   Children’s hospitals do this really well;  they make those unfortunate life moments the best they can and the little things matter.  Let’s extend that to the adults in need of medical care, too.  A planned healthcare experience based on a great design. — Cynthia Meehan, EVP, account management, Ogilvy Health

Number one is hospital/provider transparency around fees and costs. It’s not just their responsibility, however, it’s integrating with the payers. There seems to be a circle jerk that is designed to confuse the end-payer (the consumer/patient) rather than empower them with knowledge.

Number two would be more support for community clinics. They serve a vital role in localities so far as services. There should be more support from both the government but also the private sector for these centers that often cover everything from urgent care to women’s health.

Number three would be more support for caregivers. Support from every institution from government to Big Pharma. This is the invisible army that delivers a substantial amount of care within this nation’s healthcare system. Right now they are living in the shadows… often because of the unconscious shame of having to provide for the vulnerable without any public acknowledgement of their importance. It will take much more than “nice words” from any communications about their role. It will take actual delivery of resources to caregivers around things like “time off,” subsidies for prescriptions, and a larger public acknowledgement of how many Americans – whether with aging parents or chronically ill young children – struggle to maintain the wellbeing of their families. — Liz Kane, chief strategy officer, Ogilvy Health

My doctor and insurance provider could alleviate my frustration if it was clear how much an appointment or procedure was going to cost and if I only received one bill. I took my daughter to see an orthopedist, who sent her for an MRI at the same hospital. I got multiple bills at multiple times for office visits, the MRI, the reading of the MRI, etc. Every time I paid one bill another one showed up for another aspect of her care. It was clear what the MRI would cost (pre-certification) but not all the ancillary costs that would come with it too. Coordinating on the back end before sending patients one, cohesive bill would go a long way to help ease frustrations. — Cara Levinson, SVP, planner, Ogilvy Health

1. Talk to each other.

2. Spend more time with me.

3. Be more available.  (I know there are so many hours in a day, but when we are told that the next available appointment is 6 months out, that’s a problem that could lead to additional problems!)

— Mary Brown, EVP, client lead, Ogilvy Health

1. Listen, and by that, I mean actively listen to the patient, and caregiver.  Understand why they are there and what their understanding is of their current health state. Inquire about their concerns. Ask them how they feel or what they are thinking instead of a glib or off-hand, “Do you have any questions?”  People are becoming more knowledgeable and responsible for their health but there is still a great majority who hold caregivers up as “gods,” and “all-knowing experts,” etc., and feel intimidated to ask questions or even challenge their own treatment. When you are not feeling well, that’s when people are most vulnerable to doubts, tend to feel intimidated, and can lose focus, or be fearful.  Providers need to address this at every visit until a patient can reliably relate to their treatment and understand their illness.

2. Providers need a clear understanding of the total patient, and the entire patient journey when a patient presents with a chronic condition (including a cancer diagnosis). They should communicate treatment and its concomitant side effects and AEs in a layman’s format so patients will be less likely to show up at an urgent care or emergency room.  There is a need for reliable digital options potentially to enhance provider, patient, and caregiver communication.

3. I also think providers can do a better job of using technology more (virtual visits, e-alerts for scheduling/and for appointment availability, self-diagnosing tools with e-chat capabilities, etc).

— Ray Johnson, SVP, management supervisor, Ogilvy Health

One of the most important things is the need to treat me like a customer and think of things from my perspective. Consider the things that are important to a customer: How much will this cost? Do I need approval from someone and who is that? How long will it take? What comes next? Don’t just give us information, but help us know the questions that we might not even know to ask. — Roger Boutin, VP of communications and market intelligence, Scorr Marketing

The length of time and steps it takes to get answers or correct care approved can be lengthy and often there is a need to advocate for yourself to push a process along, both with insurance companies and providers. Also, a large issue, at least in rural areas, is non-emergency transportation. For example, an ambulance to take a person from the hospital to a nursing home is limited, unavailable, and the wait for the transfer is a challenge. In one situation, we had to transport the patient ourselves as transportation options either had excessive wait periods or were non-existent. We gathered this is an occurring issue across rural areas. — Carrie Whiting, senior director of human resources and facilities, Scorr Marketing

1. Improving health literacy gaps as we discussed earlier to reduce patient confusion or misinterpretation, and to provide greater health outcomes as they have a clear plan that is in a language they understand. 2. Addressing health disparities to ensure that patients are being listened to, cared for despite barriers, and feel they have access to care that could lead to better outcomes. 3. Empowering the support teams to participate in the patient care more: give them information to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, give them digital tools and resources to help answer patients’ questions or further explain their treatment plans/diagnoses, and make it easier for them to ensure proper billing and details to make their jobs easier. There are ways to make them feel more validated and supported as they are the first and last face a patient sees, and may ensure that physicians treatment plans are followed-through effectively. We could have a role in the programs and tools that were built for our brands and providers! — Kelly Hopler, VP, strategy, Merge

Universal healthcare… but since that might not be a viable option at the moment, maybe some kind of web/app system that works across different healthcare providers/pharmacies that tells you exactly how much you would owe, and in what place, before setting an appointment. Other than that, some kind of simplification of the system/process, and a movement toward insurance literacy. — Dillon Fernando, lead designer, motion, Minds + Assembly

1) More realistic visit schedules. Fewer people per day, to allow for more meaningful interactions. 2) Follow-ups. Post-visit calls or texts, to make sure what was discussed in the exam room is still the plan-of-attack. 3) Better magazines in the waiting room. But that’s a personal gripe! — Jay Lopez, business development director, Minds + Assembly

1. Provide a dedicated person upon admission to a hospital — a single point-of-contact to answer questions and ensure continuity of care. 2. Eliminate lengthy pre-authorizations. 3. Do more to support healthy preventive behaviors. — Ben Ingersoll, cofounder, writing, Minds + Assembly

Health systems and insurers could do the following to lessen frustration with engagements:

  • Increase transparency regarding billing and pricing 
  • Improve communications about billing and pricing (e.g., proactively communicate about anticipated costs, use consumer-friendly language)
  • Modernize the consumer experience to facilitate the above (e.g., integrate systems, make platforms easier to navigate and understand)

— Sarah Killeen, senior director, The Kinetix Group

  1. Facilitating robust and informed HCP-patient dialog 
  2. Simplifying the complexity of choice by helping patients make informed decisions
  3. Providing a roadmap that helps patients navigate access

— Pat Berry, SVP, group strategy director, Harrison and Star