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12:50 PM
Nathan Golia
Nathan Golia
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Consumers Don't Fully Trust Health Insurers on Social Media: PwC

However, people are slightly more likely to share positive interactions with insurers than negative ones.

Only 42% of consumers are likely to trust information posted on social media sites from their insurers, compared to 61% for providers, according to a survey of 1,060 consumers by the Health Research Institute at New York-based PwC.

The research wasn't insurance-centric — it focused on all aspects of the healthcare delivery chain, including doctors, hospitals, drug companies in addition to payers. However, there were some interesting findings on the interplay between insurers and policyholders on social media. For example:

  • 41% of consumers are concerned that their health insurance coverage might be impacted due to information shared on social media

  • Consumers are about equally likely to share positive as negative opinions of insurers' customer service, costs and coverage via social media, with postings slightly more likely to be positive

  • Of an average of 499 per-insurer mentions on social media per week, the vast majority (416) are neutral, with 67 positive and 16 negative, according to PwC sentiment analysis

[According to PwC, 42% of consumers find health insurers' gamification initiatives "somewhat or very valuable." Read how Humana is leveraging the Xbox Kinect]

In addition to consumers, PwC also surveyed executives at the various health stakeholders. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed — which include insurers — said "integrating data from multiple sources was the top technical goal of their informatics program over the next two years."

Among the insurers PwC spoke to was Health Care Service Corporation, the parent company of four Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, which was singled out for a case study on using social media to improve the customer experience. Lynde O’Brien, director of electronic media strategy, told PwC:

Health insurance is something people don’t think about or don’t want to think about until something goes wrong. Connecting to members via social media before they need care is a way to change that perception. We see social media as a way to change the conversation and establish a relationship with members in a way that’s timely, relevant, and maybe even fun.

I spoke to O'Brien a few weeks ago for a story that will post Thursday on how insurers are attempting to replicate the customer experience of retailers such as in order to meet the shifting desires of consumers. Here's some of what O'Brien told me:

It's a lot more complicated for us, but much more simple for the member: They choose the channel and it's up to us to make sure you're getting an ideal experience. We have to monitor a number of platforms and deliver a number of technologies.

We've used [Fredericton, New Brunswick-based] Radian6 since the beginning of 2009 for a lot of the social media monitoring that we do. They've been fantastic about rolling out new features and keep making improvements to the way we're monitoring and picking things up.

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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