New Data on Healthcare Web Site Effectiveness Points to Challenges and Opportunities

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Research Shows People Have Trouble Using Sites, but Health Insurance Companies Have Edge

More and more people are turning to the Web seeking answers about their health or the care of someone they love. Arming themselves for doctor visits, trying to figure out why they are getting a bill for something or researching the right hospital for lower back surgery--people turn to search engines and specialized health sites.

Many health insurers are beginning to prefer that members turn to the insurer's own personalized, password protected site for help. The sites include articles on health topics vetted by physicians, tools to assist in finding the right hospital, and calculators to help people determine out-of-pocket-costs, along with other features intended to enhance user experience.

The idea is that a better informed healthcare consumer is more likely to be proactive in their own care, driving costs down, benefiting everyone. Two years ago, Web researchers at Change Sciences Group -- a consulting company that specializes in helping companies see web sites through the eyes of their users -- set out to understand how people experience health-related sites. This research has been documented in a series of detailed reports, the latest of which is now available to industry subscribers and interested members of the media.

To jump to details about the reports visit:

The data that has emerged from the studies has not always been good news for health insurance providers, or other companies trying to reach healthcare consumers online. For example, the latest report shows that users are having a hard time making sense of treatment cost calculator results. People gave an incorrect answer only half the time when asked to study the results of treatment cost calculator pages, even though the pages showed the answer. "Data like this suggests that in many cases healthcare web sites aren't working the way we expect them to, and that there is a lot of work to do to ensure that people can use healthcare sites successfully," said Steve Ellis, a Change Sciences partner.

On the other hand, insurers have the advantage when it comes to financial information about care. "One finding we have been surprised by is the extent to which consumers trust their health insurance company with financial information about their healthcare and electronic personal health records. They do so by a wide margin, preferring their health insurance company over banks, government agencies, large software companies like Google and Microsoft, and even non-profits," said Steve Ellis.

The research now consists of five reports with over 250 pages and 2500 data points on how people experience healthcare online. The reports cover how people experience the web sites of the following companies: Aetna, Anthem, Assurant Health, The Bancorp Bank , Bank of America, California Health Care Foundation, Chase, CIGNA, ConnectYourCare, Department of Health and Human Services, Exante Bank, Fidelity, Fifth Third Bank, First Horizon, Harris Bank, Health Equity, HSA Bank, The Leapfrog Group, M&I Bank, Mayo Clinic, Principal, Sterling HSA, United Healthcare, US Bank, Wachovia, Web MD, and Wells Fargo. For more about the research, including sample data and findings highlights visit:

About Change Sciences Group
Change Sciences was founded in January 2000 to help companies optimize online business by basing decisions on how people use technology while they live, work, and play.

Rhonda Mills
Change Sciences Group, Inc.
888-864-1160 ext 731
rhonda (at) changesciences (dot) com


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