A survey conducted on behalf of Kyruus, a patient-experience software vendor, found that the majority of consumers say they still prefer in-person care for long-term needs.
At the same time, nearly one-third of respondents are more likely to choose virtual visits now than before the pandemic – and nearly two-thirds say access to telehealth will be an important factor in deciding where to obtain care in the future.
“While some of the pandemic’s influence on consumer choice may be shorter-term, it is evident that the pandemic permanently re-shaped patient preferences and expectations in profound ways,” read a report accompanying the survey.
WHY IT MATTERS
The Kyruus report is based on a survey of 1,000 people older than 18 from across the U.S. who represented a mix of private and public insurance users.
The survey found that 62% of respondents had a virtual care visit of some kind from March 2019 through March 2020 – and for 71% of them, it was their first time doing so.
Half of respondents said their primary care provider had offered virtual care visits during the pandemic.
Looking ahead, the majority of consumers preferred in-person care – but not an overwhelming majority.
When it comes to mental healthcare and routine care in particular, more than 40% said they’d rather access services virtually or through a combination of virtual and in-person visits.
Additionally, 30% said they were more likely to seek virtual visits post-pandemic, and 35% said they were just as likely.
“Continuing to educate patients about their options for receiving care – across modalities, settings, and care types – and empowering them to increasingly self-navigate when desired will go a long way in helping healthcare organizations stand out in the post-pandemic world,” according to the report.
THE LARGER TREND
The pandemic ushered in unprecedented levels of interest in virtual care, enabled by loosened federal restrictions around telehealth.
But the future of telemedicine remains somewhat murky – and long-term patient interest seems to vary based on who’s asking and who’s being asked.
In contrast to the Kyruus survey, a recent HIMSS Market Intelligence survey found that nearly one in two respondents between the ages of 18 and 56 preferred seeing their primary care provider via video after the COVID-19 pandemic. Those over 57 still preferred in-person care. (HIMSS is the parent company for Healthcare IT News.)
As with the Kyruus survey, the HIMSS survey found that mental health was the most popular specialty for video visits across age groups.
ON THE RECORD
“As healthcare organizations envision what patient access will look like as we continually navigate through the pandemic, they are thoughtfully considering which adjustments to retain long term,” said Dr. Erin Jospe, chief medical officer at Kyruus, in a statement.
“This research underscores the importance of coupling clinical and consumer perspectives to maximize how much of the pandemic-driven innovation remains permanently,” Jospe added.