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Two-Thirds of Americans Have Had a Negative Health Care Experience, According to Accenture Research

Empathy and adopting appropriate digital technologies are key to improving care

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The U.S. healthcare industry could improve care experiences by engaging patients with empathy and using their trusted position to recommend appropriate digital technologies, according to a new report from Accenture (NYSE: ACN).

The report, “Digital Adoption in Healthcare: Reaction or Revolution?,” is based on a survey of more than 1,700 people in the U.S. conducted between May and June. A key finding: two-thirds (67%) of Americans have had a negative healthcare experience.

When asked which factors were most important to creating a positive experience with a healthcare provider, people most often cited “a medical provider who explains the patient’s condition and treatment clearly” and “a provider who listens, understands patient’s needs and provides emotional support”. These were cited by 55% and 52% of respondents, respectively.

At the same time, negative healthcare experiences were shown to have serious consequences on health outcomes. Of those who reported negative experiences, 34% said they were less likely to seek medical care the next time they needed it and the same number said they had switched providers or treatments. Others chose not to keep up with their treatment or hadn’t picked up their prescription because of these poor experiences.

"Our research shows that improving care experiences will require better collaboration between all relevant parties ― from pharma companies and healthcare providers to insurance and tech companies," said Dr. Kaveh Safavi, a senior managing director in Accenture's Health practice. “We have to lead with people first and use digital technology to make healthcare experiences simpler, more coordinated, more empathetic and, ultimately, more effective.”

The report notes that while people do not always consider digital technologies as a primary way to seek care but those who do have better experiences thanks to the increased touch points. People said they would be more likely to adopt digital technologies if a provider recommended them (cited by 33% of respondents), if they felt more confident in data security and privacy (30%), and if these technologies enabled them to receive better information about their health (30%). People also said they have a greater willingness to share their personal health data with a medical provider or pharmaceutical companies if doing so delivers a personal benefit, such as improving their health and increasing their medications’ effectiveness (44%) or gathers evidence about their medication and treatment efficacy (37%).

The report also underscores the relationship between trust in the pharmaceutical industry and medication costs, with 59% of respondents saying they have at some point struggled to pay for care. When cost was an issue, 39% percent said they delayed treatment and 29% percent said they declined treatment. Additional research shows almost 30% of patients report not taking their treatments as prescribed due to cost.

“The pharmaceutical industry is top of mind right now for many people, so it has an opportunity to engage with patients to recreate the customer experience,” said Brad Michel, a managing director in Accenture’s Life Sciences practice in North America. “Consider that 34% of the respondents said they would have more trust in pharma companies if they were more transparent about the drug development process ― and the same number said they would have more trust if pharma companies clearly communicated the effectiveness and side effects of medications. This tells us that people see solutions for a more positive relationship.”

About the 2021 Accenture Health and Life Sciences Experience Survey

Accenture commissioned a survey of 1,755 people in the U.S. to assess their attitudes toward the healthcare system in terms of access, equity, service experience, digital technology adoption and trust. Forty percent of the respondents included patients with current conditions in the following therapeutic areas: oncology, cardiovascular, respiratory, immunology, gastroenterology, and neurology. The online survey was conducted in the U.S. between May and June 2021.

About Accenture

Accenture is a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital, cloud and security. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries, we offer Strategy and Consulting, Interactive, Technology and Operations services — all powered by the world’s largest network of Advanced Technology and Intelligent Operations centers. Our 569,000 people deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity every day, serving clients in more than 120 countries. We embrace the power of change to create value and shared success for our clients, people, shareholders, partners and communities. Visit us at

From the back office to the doctor’s office, Accenture’s Health practice combines unmatched experience, business and clinical insights with innovative technologies to help clients around the world embrace the power of change to deliver more effective, efficient and affordable healthcare. To learn more, visit

Accenture’s Life Sciences industry group helps pharmaceutical, biotech, medical technology, distributor and consumer health companies combine the latest technology with scientific breakthroughs to revolutionize how medical treatments are discovered, developed and delivered to patients around the world. To learn more, visit

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Last Updated: 16-Aug-2021