By providing online access, healthcare insurance companies can reach more people and be more convenient for customers.
Today’s healthcare customers compare offerings and can easily jump from one company to another. In response, healthcare exchanges have begun to offer lower cost, higher quality alternatives on the health insurance exchange to provide better value proposition. As a result, customers have new choices and businesses can access new audiences.
Online healthcare insurance exchanges also improve access to insurance, enabling many patients to obtain care they may otherwise not have been able to afford. Moreover, online healthcare exchanges provide individuals and those who work for small companies the ability to shop for insurance and compare prices, packages, and benefits.
At the same time, the healthcare insurance industry faces some unique challenges. To identify three issues inherent to the online healthcare insurance industry, let’s look at HealthCare.gov.
The healthcare insurance marketplace
Americans are required by the Affordable Care Act to indicate that they have health insurance coverage for the coming year. If they do not, they face a tax penalty. To comply with this requirement, many Americans have turned to the online federal health insurance marketplace to enroll in coverage for the upcoming year.
As with all new programs, when Healthcare.gov first went live, there were a few hiccups. People struggled to log into their accounts and verify their identity. Even worse, HealthCare.gov collapsed under the pressure of the high amount of user traffic and was barely functioning during its first few months of existence.
These days, the federal health insurance marketplace is running much more smoothly. However, people still have trouble logging in and completing the identity proofing process. In addition, significant delays cause many to take more than 90 minutes to complete their application. Others can’t complete their applications at all.
So what are the sources of the problems?
1. Complicated processes
In the healthcare industry, customers often need to a complete long, complicated process to submit an application or make a claim on their insurance. These processes are necessary to ensure that customers are protected by the law and provided with all of the services they need.
At the same time, often customers do not understand why things have to be so complex. From their end, all they see is a frustrating ordeal as they struggle to figure out how to submit an application or make a claim on their insurance. In addition, many customers are unfamiliar with the terminology used in the healthcare industry. This challenge alone can easily overwhelm customers.
In fact, data from the most recent Commonwealth Fund Affordable Care Act Tracking Survey underscores this issue. About four of 10 adults (38%) who did not sign up for healthcare coverage from an online marketplace said they abandoned the transaction because found the process of enrolling difficult or confusing.
2. Impersonal experience
Signing up for health insurance or completing any other process in the healthcare insurance industry is a chore that most people begrudgingly complete. Without an agent to make this chore easier, customers can feel isolated and view the provider as cold, impersonal, and uncaring. Customers may even feel like they are just another number in a long line of other customers.
When it comes to healthcare, people often want a provider that will make them feel cared for. If your customers don’t feel like your business cares about them, they will eventually turn to another provider who does.
Moreover, in an office, a representative can find all of the forms customers need and explain everything to them. When customers go online to complete the same processes, they are on their own. It is easy to feel intimidated or give up.
In fact, the same survey mentioned above found that getting personal assistance makes a critical difference in whether people sign up for health insurance through an online marketplace.
3. User uncertainty
Another issue with completing healthcare processes online is that users often don’t receive immediate confirmation that they looking in the right place or that they’ve completed processes correctly. Customers may go online, think they’ve filled out all of the correct forms, and find out later that they missed one crucial step. Now they have to start the entire process over again.
How frustrating and discouraging!
It is reassuring to customers to have someone familiar with the healthcare insurance industry available to confirm that they did everything right. Yet in an online environment, it can be challenging for customers to find the help they need.
Learning from past healthcare insurance mistakes
If you are in any part of the healthcare insurance industry, you can learn from the example of the federal health insurance marketplace. Recognize the issues inherent to transferring the healthcare process to the internet and address those issues proactively.
All three of the issues mentioned above stem from customers not being able to receive the help that they need – help they could easily receive if they were talking to a representative in person.
Improving online customer service
Customers often initially like to do at least some of their own research. FAQs and online success centers (knowledge bases) are great places to include information about your offerings, tips and tricks about filling out forms, customer stories, and more.
The next step is to give customers access to a real human being who can help them when they are online. There are three visual engagement capabilities you can add to your website to enhance your customers’ online experience and give your customers access to a real person: cobrowsing, chat, and video.
Chat technology provides an instant means for customers and agents to share words. Cobrowsing technology allows customers and agents to share vision, as agents can instantly view and interact with customers’ web browsers (with permission, of course). One-way video allows customers to see the faces of the agents they are working with, bringing a truly human aspect to the online conversation. When you come to a website enabled with chat, cobrowsing, and video solutions you know you’ve found a healthcare insurance organization that truly gets it.
Ready to learn more about how to gain the most of visual engagement in the healthcare industry?
Are you ready to discover how Glance can improve customer engagement and increase sales for your own business?
About Glance Networks
Glance helps enterprise organizations create the ultimate customer experience with smart, omni-channel visual engagement solutions based around integrated cobrowse, screen share, and one-way agent video. We are one of the world’s simplest, most reliable and secure platforms that enable companies to see, show and share anything online, creating a frictionless path to great experiences in sales, support and customer service. The result is improved customer satisfaction and loyalty, increased revenue growth and operational savings. From financial services and healthcare to retail and travel and leisure, even the most advanced technology and SaaS organizations – we transform the customer experience for today’s business. Learn More »