One-Third of All US Consumers Have Found Misleading Information in Healthcare Provider Directories

Atlas Systems Study Shows That Bad Experiences with Directories Lead To Brand Distrust in 82% Of Cases

September 6, 2023; East Brunswick, NJ: A just-released study from Atlas Systems demonstrates how strongly consumers have come to rely on online provider directories – and how inaccurate information in those resources is leading to wasted time, unexpected medical bills, and lingering bad feelings about the health plans involved.

Conducted in July 2023, the just-released Atlas Member Experience Monitor™ research shows that almost two-thirds (62%) of US consumers who have health insurance now, or have had it in the past, have turned to online health plan directories to find providers. And more than half (55%) of these directory users have discovered inaccurate information about doctors and other practitioners in the directories – a figure that rises to nearly two-thirds (62%) among the youngest user group (ages 18 to 34). (See Table 1.)

If we translate these figures to the full US population, we find that essentially one-third (32%) of all US consumers have found incorrect information in a provider directory, including 39% of those 18 to 34.

Click here to view an on-demand presentation and panel discussion about this study

Table 1. Consumers who have encountered inaccurate information in healthcare provider directories

Source: Atlas Systems’ Member Experience Monitor 2023

Among directory users who did find incorrect information, 50% said that they were misinformed about whether a practitioner was accepting new patients. Women were much more likely to report this error than men (59% vs. 39%), and those ages 65 and above were almost twice as likely compared to the 18-to-34 cohort (60% vs. 33%).

Other frequently cited outcomes of incorrect directory information included:

  • 28% – called or emailed the wrong medical practice or office
  • 26% – found out that the provider had retired or passed away
  • 25% – learned that the provider’s specialties were not as described
  • 24% – received an unexpectedly high medical bill

Among directory users who did find errors, eight in 10 (82%) said the experience made them less likely to trust the health plan involved – and 36% said they were “extremely less likely” to trust the insurer. We also found that younger directory users were almost twice as likely as older (44% vs. 23%) to report an extreme loss of trust.

“There is no more essential measure of a provider directory’s value than how well it serves health plan members,” said John Lamb, Vice President of Provider Operations at Atlas Systems. “Our new research captures the firsthand experiences of directory users – and health plans have reason to be concerned. Many insurance companies are delivering inaccurate provider information to their members, and those experiences are leading to strongly negative perceptions of the brands involved. Understanding and responding to this evolving relationship needs to be a top health plan priority.”

A service of Atlas Systems, PRIME® offers a rigorous, proven approach to provider data validation – helping insurance plans deliver great member experiences and stay in compliance with the No Surprises Act. We achieve best-in-class provider data accuracy with 95% client-audited quality assurance and up to 90% validation success. While other services rely on data aggregation – using sources of unknown reliability – PRIME delivers data validation from the source, reaching out directly via convenient channels to contracted health systems, provider groups, and individual practitioners.

The first Atlas Member Experience Monitor study was conducted by GBK Collective in July 2023 among 1,000 online Americans, representing a full cross-section of the US population.

About Atlas Systems

With offices in the US and India, Atlas Systems is a trusted partner helping companies on their digital transformation journeys – expanding their capabilities and delivering added value. Leveraging innovative technologies, such as AI and Cloud, Atlas works closely with clients to provide technology solutions that seamlessly enhance in-house teams and systems.