How Could COVID-19 Permanently Affect Patient Behavior?

As the pandemic continues, hospitals and research organizations are investigating the many ways that patients and practitioners are being affected by COVID-19.

Global data intelligence company Morning Consult has facilitated three separate surveys among American adults to gauge shifts in attitudes towards healthcare throughout this unprecedented year.

Their most recent survey of 2,199 respondents, published in October 2020, concluded that 68% of adults felt comfortable seeing their primary care doctors for non-COVID related care during the pandemic. While this is a considerable jump from 39% in their April 2020 survey, it shows little change from 65% in July 2020.

Additionally, many Americans remain hesitant to visit emergency rooms or other types of specialists in person. Public health advocates and medical professionals are considering these results a signal that the healthcare landscape has been changed for the foreseeable future, requiring us to rethink our approach to health care access during and after the pandemic.

Laptop and stethoscope

In a separate initiative by Accenture, a survey with 2,700 respondents uncovered that patients have accepted and are embracing telehealth and other forms of virtual and remote health care.

Published in July, 9 out of 10 survey respondents felt that the care they received was just as good or better than before the pandemic and many would like these virtual care options to remain available after the pandemic.

When asked for reasons behind the perceived improvement in care, 47% cited better and more personalized care, 41% cited quicker response times, and 40% cited more convenient access through these new communication channels.

Not only does telehealth provide a more convenient and safe way for patients to access health care services during the pandemic, it allows patients to take an empowered approach to their health and preventative care.

However, the increase in telehealth visits has not offset the drop in in-person patient visits according to the American Medical Association’s COVID-19 Physician Practice Financial Impact Survey that took place in July and August.

While it is evident that virtual care is becoming an integral part of the patient experience, the extent to which providers can continue offering these services after the pandemic is reliant on profitability, continued insurance coverage, and whether the regulations that were eased as a result of this national health emergency will remain in place.

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