Despite growing confidence in returning to in-person care, 20% of U.S. healthcare consumers are still planning to delay physician visits this year and 22% are unsure, according to a new survey from patient access solutions provider Kyruus.
The survey, which polled 1,000 U.S. adults in March, shows that over 50% of respondents delayed some sort of care during the pandemic. Most of those who delayed care (48%) say they felt unsafe going into a healthcare facility in person.
But now, a majority of Americans (58%) say they do not plan to delay in-person care in 2021. In fact, in-person care is the most preferred care setting across routine (59%), acute (65%), specialty (69%) and mental healthcare visits (55%). [Click image to enlarge]
While the Covid-19 pandemic did not displace consumers’ preference for in-person care, it did increase their appetite for virtual care, with 30% of respondents saying they are more likely to choose virtual visits now than before the pandemic. Overall, 62% of respondents had a virtual care visit of some kind in the past year.
Looking ahead, about 63% said access to virtual care will be an important factor when deciding where to seek care, and of those, 40% said they would switch providers for the option to have virtual visits.
Digital scheduling options will also be key amid the ongoing Covid-19 vaccine rollout. Nearly half of respondents (46%) said they had looked for vaccine appointment information online, consulting state or government websites (57%) or a health system or hospital website (35%).
A majority of respondents (60%), spanning all age groups, said they would prefer to book vaccine appointments online. Even among those 65 and older, 51% cited online scheduling as their preferred appointment booking method. [Click image to enlarge]
But virtual visit and online scheduling options will not be the only factors driving Americans’ care decision-making in the year ahead.
About 48% of survey respondents said that insurance coverage will be the most important criteria impacting their care decisions, while 37% said the ability to obtain timely care will have the biggest impact. Around 22% said the same regarding clear information on Covid-19 safety protocols.
“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,” the report states.
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