A new study from Deloitte Health Solutions describes the U.S. health system as a kind of "Wild West," and says consumers fit into four general categories in that framing.

The study surveyed 4,530 U.S. consumers to assess their attitudes, behaviors, and preferences when making decisions about health care and health insurance. In their frontier scenario, the Deloitte researchers said consumers can be placed in the following categories:

  • Trailblazers—tech savvy, self-directed, engaged in wellness, willing to share data
  • Prospectors—who rely on recommendations from friends/family, use providers as trusted advisors, willing to use technology
  • Homesteaders—reserved, cautious traditionalists
  • Bystanders—complacent, tech-reluctant, resistant to change, unengaged

According to the report, Trailblazers make up 16 percent of consumers. These tend to be younger, higher-income consumers. They tend to be in excellent health, and the group contained more men than women. These are consumers who are most likely to look up report cards or scorecards on doctors, hospitals, and health insurance companies. They are also the most likely to change doctors if they are dissatisfied with their communication style.

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