14 minute read 6 Jun 2023
Black man and son in their home together to work on finance

How to give health consumers the access and experience they value most

By Aloha McBride

EY Global Health Leader

Passionate about the delivery of safe, high-quality healthcare at a reasonable price. Innovator. Dog mom.

14 minute read 6 Jun 2023

Show resources

The EY Global Consumer Health Survey 2023 finds consumers value access most, but also want cost-effective care and relief from pain and anxiety.

In brief
  • The survey finds consumers prefer in-person care to virtual, meaning virtual experience should be refined to cater to consumer segments.
  • Ease of using health care services, access and improving the health of the community are top drivers of health care performance, according to consumers.
  • Consumers highly value access to care. However, they rated access to care below average (42%) across six surveyed countries.
Local Perspective IconA local perspective

Improving access to care and patient experience in the Nordics 

To deliver excellent care, it is crucial to put the patient in the center and understand their needs. EY’s Global Consumer Health Survey shows that many patients perceive that access of care in their countries are lacking. In the Nordics, official reports also show that there’s a shortage of hospital beds and access to care.

By understanding different types of health consumers and patients (‘personas’), Nordic healthcare providers can offer more personalized treatment methods and leverage digital tools and health data more efficiently. Finally, it can also help patients more seamlessly navigate the complex healthcare ecosystem of regions, municipalities, and other care providers to maximize patient experience.

Local contact

Linda Andersson
EY EMEIA Sector Leader Government, EY Nordic, Health Sciences & Wellness, Advisory Partner
Finn Holm
Partner, EY Norway, Nordic Health Lead, Workforce Advisory (TAX)

What do consumers value in health care? They want access to care when they or a family member need it. They want a cost-effective system and relief from pain and anxiety. Consumers perceive access to care as having the most value, but the EY Global Consumer Health Survey 2023 found only 37% of global consumers in the survey said their health system offered good, very good or excellent access to care.

To better understand what consumers value in health care, in early 2023, EY researchers surveyed more than 6,000 consumers across six countries: the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, England and Germany, with the majority having had contact with the health care system in the previous 12 months. Read the full survey highlights report (pdf).

Value in health care is deeply anchored in the responsibilities of providers and payers for overall cost and quality outcomes. Specifically, accounting for whole-of-person care through quality-linked payments, the distribution of risk and tools that drive care coordination, improve quality and financial efficiency.

But to look at value only through the lens of providers and payers leaves the consumer — the most important participant in health care — out of the value equation. We know activated, engaged patients are more likely to comply with their care plans and make behavioral decisions in support of their health. 

Whose responsibility?

Overall, the survey respondents believe the responsibility for good health lies with individuals (44%) or is a shared responsibility with their medical providers (43%). One in seven (13%) puts that responsibility with medical experts. Individuals who believe that medical experts are in charge of achieving overall good health tend to have poor or fair health, chronic conditions and are in lower income brackets.

Who’s interacting more with the system?

Fifty-five percent of respondents are more proactive with their health and undertake medical checkups. Those who claim to have good, very good or excellent health (58%) are more likely to have consulted a medical professional in the past 12 months for a routine checkup. In the future, these proactive individuals are more inclined to consider monitoring their health using technologies such as genetic testing (70% vs. 68% overall) or wearable sensors (66% vs. 64% overall).

How are they treated?

Nearly three-quarters (73%) say they are treated with empathy, courtesy and respect, and over two-thirds (69%) say care plans are explained in ways that can be easily understood. Four in five rated the handling of patient privacy as good, very good or excellent.

What drives health system performance from a consumer point of view?

Half of the respondents to the EY Global Consumer Health Survey 2023 say their health care system offers above average performance, while 31% believe their health systems are performing below average.

Health system performance:


of global consumers surveyed consider their health system performance to be above average

Health system performance:


of global survey respondents consider their health system performance to be below average

Many said their health system performs well in critical areas, such as being up to date with the latest treatments and innovations. Across all countries, introducing the latest medical treatments and innovations (48%) and optimizing the overall health experience regardless of race, location or personal circumstance (46%) are perceived to be strong features of health systems.

Considering that consumers put the most emphasis on access when it comes to value, only 37% of global consumers in the survey said their health system offered good, very good or excellent access to care.

What drives health system performance? For consumers, there are three factors:

  • Ease of using health care services
  • Access to care
  • Improving health of the community 
Health systems have the opportunity to improve their performance in the eyes of their consumers by focusing on these drivers
Drivers of perceived health care system performance among respondents from all surveyed countries

To better understand what drives positive perceptions of the performance of health care systems, a driver analysis was undertaken that estimates the relative importance of different factors in determining the perceived performance of the health care system. 

  • Image description

    This chart displays drivers of perceived health care system performance among respondents from all surveyed countries: Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland and the United States. Percentage ratings of each individual driver of performance are as follows: 


    All countries All countries Australia Canada England Germany Ireland United States
    Ease of using health care services 14 14 15 15 13 13 14
    Access to care 13 15 14 14 8 12 14
    Improving health of the community 11 11 12 10 14 10 13
    Customer service 11 10 12 15 13 11 10
    Value for money spent overall 11 11 11 8 11 13 10
    Right balance between hospitals, GPs and community care 10 14 10 11 10 10 9
    Optimization of health experience for all regardless of race, location or personal circumstances 9 8 10 8 10 10 9
    Introducing latest treatments, drugs and medical innovations 9 8 7 8 11 9 9
    Mental health is of equal importance as other health issues 6 6 5 6 5 6 7
    Environmental sustainability of health care system          4 3 5 4 4 5 6

What are key differences among consumer segments?

Consumers vary in their views on who is responsible for their health, whether they are making decisions for the present or the future and how involved they are in medical decision-making, giving rise to personas that health systems can use to understand how to better approach the community.

For example, the largest consumer segment emerging from the EY survey findings is among those who trend older, may be retired, and pay attention to their health to avoid getting sick in the future, even if they tend to be in good health with no chronic conditions. Roughly 60% rated their digital skills as above average. This segment, referred to as mature altruists, believes medical experts and individuals are both equally responsible for overall good health. They also tend to be partially included in medical decisions. With data insights about this consumer segment and their preferences, health systems can design access and experience strategies that make sense for this group.

Consumer wants and needs vary, spotlighting opportunities for more nuanced engagement strategies
  • Image description

    This chart displays drivers of perceived health care system performance among respondents from all surveyed countries: Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland and the United States. The percentages are grouped by six identified persona groups among survey respondents identified as “All About Health—Self-reliant and future-focused,” “Price Conscious Experience Hunters — Self-reliant and present or future-focused,” “Mature Altruists—Shared responsibility and future-focused,” “Experience First Youngsters — Shared responsibility and equally present and future-focused,” “In The Moment Strugglers — Medical expert reliant and present-focused,” and “The Blended — Medical expert reliant and future-focused.” The findings are as follows:

    Consumer persona I have above-average digital skills I am open to sharing my health data I would consider virtual for certain care I have overall good health
    “All About Health” 66 77 51 82
    “Price Conscious Experience Hunters” 57 70 45 69
    “Mature Altruists” 58 77 46 74
    “Experience First Youngsters” 51 64 39 70
    “In The Moment Strugglers” 47 66 33 64
    “The Blended” 52 74 40 68

An analysis of consumer responses to the EY survey spotlighted six consumer segments with varying degrees of participation in their health care, openness to virtual and decision-making styles. They also take different views on who is ultimately responsible for their health. 

Why do consumers still prefer in-person to virtual care, and how do they perceive data sharing?

In the EY survey findings, face-to-face consultations were generally viewed more positively than virtual consultations, especially when it came to:

  • The ability to show the health condition to professionals (84%)
  • Developing a personal connection with the medical practitioner (77%)
  • The overall quality of the consultation (71%)
  • Being given the confidence that their health concerns can be taken care of (67%)

Consumer preference ⎼ discussing test results:


Would consider virtual to discuss test results

Consumer preference ⎼ forming connection:


Prefer in-person to form a personal connection

However, virtual consultations have a role to play, in particular when someone doesn’t want to wait for an in-person appointment (34%) and for convenience (31%). Across the six countries surveyed, over two in five (44%) are willing to consider a virtual consultation, especially in these situations:

  • Renew a prescription (67%)
  • Discuss test results (61%)
  • Save time (57%)
  • For a minor medical condition (56%)

In the survey, consumers also indicated openness to data sharing. Overall, three-quarters (73%) of the survey respondents would agree to have their medical information automatically shared electronically with the different places they receive medical care. But they made clear they want to know upfront how that personal health information is protected and used (79% agree/strongly agrees).

What will they agree to share?

  • Biometric data (such as blood pressure or glucose) - 77%
  • Dietary or nutritional information - 72%
  • Lifestyle choices (such as smoking or drinking) - 71%
  • Patient-reported outcomes - 66%
  • Genetic information - 63%

As for the profile of those who are more open to sharing, those with a chronic health condition (77%) and those aged 65 years or more (76%) are more likely to agree to have their information shared. Individuals are more likely to share information for research purposes (65% agree), as opposed to helping pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers improve the effectiveness of their products (50%).

What do consumers view as the future of health care?

The future of wellness can only be realized by embracing emerging technologies to move care closer to the consumer wherever they are. So how open are consumers to concepts such as hospital at home and genetic testing that will power the future of health and wellness? The EY survey found:

  • 68% are prepared to take a genetic test to assess predispositions to diseases
  • 66% agree to take medication that matches their genetic profile
  • 66% are also prepared to access health care services in non-health care facilities (i.e., home or store)
  • 64% agree to use wearable devices to collect their health information (blood pressure or blood glucose) and send it to the doctor
  • 60% to be treated via a hospital-in-the-home program

On the other hand, individuals are less inclined to use products defined as “high tech” to treat a health condition, such as smart pills that travel with the bloodstream and transmit messages to their phones, with 43% agreeing to use them.

Key actions for health organizations

The survey findings spotlight key opportunity zones for health systems. The biggest opportunities lie in improving those aspects consumers rated as very important but where they rated their current health system as having lower performance (as shown in the matrix below). 

Where to focus efforts for improved consumer perceptions

This analysis creates four quadrants defined by plotting the importance of the different aspects of the health care system (on the X axis) and rating those same statements (on the Y axis). This analysis can assist in identifying potential areas of opportunity to leverage.

  • Image description

    This is a four-quadrant matrix chart ranking aspects of health care by both consumer ratings of the performance of their health care system on these aspects along the X axis and the consumer’s ratings of the importance of these same aspects along the Y axis. Based on their ranked performance and importance, the aspects fall into one of the four quadrants’ recommendations: prioritize, leverage, maintain or monitor. The four aspects in the prioritize quadrant are: access to care, right balance of hospitals, primary and community care, customer service, and value for money spent overall. The two aspects in the leverage quadrant are: ease of using health care services and improving health of the community. The three aspects in the maintain quadrant are: introducing latest drugs, treatments and medical innovations, optimization of health experiences for all regardless of race, location or personal circumstances, and mental health is of equal importance as other health issues. The single aspect in the monitor quadrant is environmental sustainability of the health care system.

Five clear priorities for health executives to give consumers the access and experience they value most:

1. Rethink how consumers access your system.

With access to care being most valued by consumers, think through how your consumers engage with various points in your system. Are your processes easy to navigate from a patient perspective? With staff shortages and other challenges, it may be difficult to eliminate all sources of frustration like wait times, but better communication about the cause of waits or what they should expect can make consumers feel less in the dark. Are you communicating to certain groups in meaningful ways? And when patients leave your care, are the next steps seamless, or could they cause confusion? Routing patients to the most appropriate sites of care is also important in reducing unnecessary visits to high-cost sites. The survey findings also show that people want to feel better and lessen their pain, so their engagement with the system should focus on lessening that pain and frustration.

2. Empower consumers with digital tools and technology.

Some of the friction consumers experience when trying to access health care services can be addressed with intuitive digital tools that keep them informed and lead to more consistent engagement. Do you have digital front doors that help them find what they need when they need it? Can you automate communications according to their preference for text, phone or email to keep them informed of their care process or to nudge them to take proactive steps?

3. Design better consumer experiences with data insights about your populations and their preferences.

The first step for health organizations is to root their consumer engagement strategies in a deep understanding of their customers guided by data insights about the reality of how they live their lives. Consumers at different stages of life value different modes of care — busy professionals and rural residents may value virtual visits more, while an elderly patient without a smartphone may value seeing their physician face to face. Design care pathways according to those different personas, the barriers to care they face, and their preferences

4. Improve the virtual experience and integrate it seamlessly where it makes sense.

The survey results suggest more work for health organizations when it comes to the virtual care experience to build trust and better relationships with consumers. As learned during the pandemic, it takes extra skill to develop personal relationships through a computer or phone screen, and the survey results suggest consumers doubt their ability to bond with clinicians over video. Training efforts to boost the ways that clinicians can make patients feel seen and heard during virtual visits can help improve the experience and increase consumer confidence in it. Opportunities exist to expand virtual in areas where consumers indicated interest: to offer more convenience or address delays in scheduling. Personalized strategies that again consider the lives of the patient and their preferences can help land on integrated strategies that make sense. Communications with consumers should stress the message that virtual care is part of the overall process and not less than other care modes.

5. Educate consumers on the value of data sharing and new technologies to improve health.

While consumers indicated openness to data-sharing, they were a bit more hesitant about products that could be perceived as too futuristic for now. As the care delivery model shifts toward the home, powered by wearables and informed by patient data, consumers need to be brought along step by step so they can develop comfort with health care settings that may seem unconventional today. The survey found that 60% to 67% of individuals believe that remote monitoring and delivery of patient care will become a reality in the next ten years, so health systems can start educating them on how these technologies can help keep consumers healthier at home longer and provide better value for the system and the consumer.

Show resources

Special thanks to the following individuals who contributed greatly to the EY Global Consumer Health Survey 2023:

Aishwarya Benjwal, EY Health Sciences and Wellness Analyst; Sheryl Coughlin PhD, EY Health Sector Analyst; Rachel Hall, EY US Consulting Digital Health and Smart Health Experience Leader; Kenny O’Neill, Principal, Digital Health Consulting, Ernst & Young LLP; Aakanksha Kaul, EY Health Sciences and Wellness Analyst; Crystal Yednak, EY Global Health Senior Analyst.

  • Methodology

    Driver analysis

    A driver analysis was used to estimate the relative importance of different aspects of the health care system in driving overall perception of the performance of the health care system. Results were calculated using linear regression with an R-squared value of 0.6793. All components had p<0.05. Results have been shown as absolute relative values. Cases with missing data were excluded from analysis. 14% of the total variance in the overall performance is explained by the ease of using health care services.

    TURF analysis

    TURF Analysis (Total Unduplicated Reach and Frequency) is a type of statistical analysis used for providing estimates of market potential and optimal strategies given limited resources. TURF analysis identifies the potential proportion of individuals that could be reached with a set of features or benefits.


The EY Global Consumer Health Survey 2023 found that access to care is the top factor they perceive as highest in value. In light of this finding, health executives should focus on removing barriers and delivering the hassle-free care models consumers want. The high value consumers place on cost-effectiveness and relief from pain and anxiety should also be prioritized in efforts to improve health care systems globally. 

About this article

By Aloha McBride

EY Global Health Leader

Passionate about the delivery of safe, high-quality healthcare at a reasonable price. Innovator. Dog mom.