February 16, 2016

New effort from Oliver Wyman and Altarum examines the health information needs of vulnerable populations and how the marketplace could better serve them.

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Chicago, IL – February 16, 2016 – A new study from Oliver Wyman and Altarum, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will tackle some key questions about the consumer health information space, and explore disparities in the access and effectiveness of health information. Issues the study will address include:

  • Whether all consumers are reaping the benefit of the recent explosion of health information resources.
  • If the health information needs of vulnerable populations (low-income, the uninsured, non-English speakers and caregivers) is being considered and factored into the development of new resources.
  • How well the market understands the health information needs of vulnerable populations.

This novel, multi-disciplinary research has three components. First, the study will look at how different segments of the U.S. population currently access health information, their barriers or incentives to access, perceptions of the support provided by health information resources and tools, and whether there are unaddressed health and healthcare issues.

Preliminary results from interviews and focus groups will be available in late-March, with results from a national survey available in late-June.

The study also includes an in-depth examination of the health information marketplace. Through interviews with a cross section of key organizations – including insurers, providers, employers, consumer engagement companies, healthcare information companies, and federal and state agencies – the project will assess stakeholders’ perceptions of consumer need, and explore their current market focus and future investment priorities.

Finally, by sharing the findings of the consumer survey and market research, the study hopes to foster dialogue around the information needs of various consumer segments, and raise awareness of the divide that may exist between market perceptions and consumers’ actual needs.

The goal of this joint effort:  to empower industry decision makers and innovators with a deeper understanding of gaps – and opportunities – so they can direct investment toward building better health information for all consumer segments.

“By examining the landscape from both the ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ perspective, we will gain unique insight into the health information market,” said Graegar Smith, Principal at Oliver Wyman. “Informing industry discussion with the true needs of vulnerable populations will lead to the development of better health information resources, and that can help overcome information disparity, increase access to care, and improve health outcomes.”

“We have seen an explosion of health information resources aimed at helping the public, but these are often fragmented in the information they provide, and often they are not personalized to the user,” said Dr. Christopher Duke, Director of Altarum’s Center for Consumer Choice in Health Care. “This study will help us identify how health information resources can be made more streamlined, complete, and integrated into care decisions.”

“When it comes to making health care decisions, the consumer experience leaves much to be desired,” said Andrea M. Ducas, Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Information is typically confusing or incomplete, and is often targeted at more affluent consumers. This work is intended to push the industry to become more responsive to what all consumers – especially the most vulnerable – actually want and need.”

To learn more about participating in this important research project, contact Research@oliverwyman.com.

For media inquiries, please contact Kathryn Weismantel at kathryn.weismantel@oliverwyman.com or (312) 345-3328.


Oliver Wyman
With offices in 50+ cities across 26 countries, Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting that combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, and organization transformation. Oliver Wyman is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies [NYSE: MMC]. Follow Oliver Wyman on Twitter @OliverWyman.

About Oliver Wyman's Health & Life Sciences Practice
Oliver Wyman’s Health & Life Sciences practice serves clients in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical devices, provider, and payer sectors with strategic, operational, and organizational advice. Deep healthcare knowledge and capabilities allow the practice to deliver fact-based solutions. For the latest on the business of transforming healthcare, visit Oliver Wyman Health digital platform at health.oliverwyman.com.

About Altarum
Altarum (www.altarum.org) integrates objective research and client-centered consulting skills to deliver comprehensive, systems-based solutions that improve health and health care. Altarum employs more than 400 individuals and is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with additional offices in the Washington, DC, area, and Portland, Maine.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.


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Contact Information
Sarah Litton
Manager, Communications and Public Affairs


Altarum is a national nonprofit whose mission is to create a better, more sustainable future through ideas and action that transform American health and health care.

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