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WebMD, symplr Partnership Reflects Growing Shift To Digitize Healthcare

In healthcare, just like every other area of commerce, consumers increasingly want a seamless experience that includes everything from digital appointment setting and record keeping to payments and insurance info. And the younger the patient, the higher the demand for a digitized doctor visit.

It’s a trend that was brought to the fore Tuesday (Aug. 24) via an announcement that health information provider WebMD and provider search platform symplr are partnering on a new search and appointment scheduling tool.

Together, the two companies plan to enable consumers to locate an available  doctor and then schedule an appointment in one workflow.

Read more: WebMD, symplr Partner On Provider Search, Appointment Scheduling

In the new partnership, WebMD will seek to steer consumers to participating providers from the 75-plus million consumers who visit its site each month for health information and guidance.

The tie-up comes in the wake of a recent survey released by PYMNTS that found bridge millennial and younger patients expect to be able to manage their healthcare in the same way they manage other interactions. Having grown accustomed to smooth online experiences that prioritize frictionless interactions, these consumers feel put off when they don’t receive the same level of convenience and simplicity at every stage of their interactions with healthcare providers as they do in other areas of their lives.

Overwhelming Interest

Taking a closer look at the patient data, when managing their healthcare services or interactions with their providers, 86 percent are “very” or “extremely” interested in using at least one digital method.

Before booking an appointment with a doctor, 83 percent conduct a great deal of research. Here, there is an opportunity to healthcare providers to engage them online.

When interacting with a practice, 13 percent said using a practice’s website was their preferred method of communication.

When communicating with healthcare providers, 65 percent are interested in communicating securely, while 90 percent of bridge millennial and younger patients said they desire a holistic, ongoing relationship with their provider that includes frequent communication.

The Doctor Will Text You Now

When visiting their healthcare provider, 62 percent prefer in-person visits but want those visits to be focused on care and not administrative tasks. Digital tools can help healthcare providers deliver that.

Nearly 70 percent show interest in filling out medical forms digitally, while 73 percent said they are “very” or “extremely” interested in payment plans and options, including digital receipt, which were also preferred by 70 percent of respondents.

In between appointments, 76 percent said they wished their providers would reach out to them more often. When viewing their medical histories, 68 percent of bridge millennial and younger patients are interested in doing that digitally.

Taking The Pulse On HealthTech

Another finding of great importance to healthcare providers is the fact that 35 percent of bridge millennial and younger patients said they were likely to switch healthcare providers if they were offered digital tools to manage healthcare services.

It’s a not-so-subtle endorsement of HealthTech and its continued encroach as the segment encompasses everything from telehealth options to self-service healthcare kiosks, to digital check-ins, payments and automated appointment reminders.

Also read: With $140B In Medical Debt, Doctors Saying ‘I’ll Bill You’ Doesn’t Cut It Anymore

In a recent conversation with PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster, Rectangle Health CEO Dominick Colabella said tools are already in place to make medical payments seamless. He noted that just as consumers are told upfront what they will be required to pay for voluntary procedures and treatments, the same can be done with primary care provisions and practices.

To revisit the retail experiential correlations, since patients are also Amazon shoppers and Uber riders that know what a seamless transaction should feel like, medical providers need to provide the same level of search, discovery and payments facilitation in order to close the loop.

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