This was originally published on Greystone.Net's blog, GreyMatters, on May 19. The past four years, Kyruus has conducted a survey of 1,000 healthcare consumers to understand how they search for, select, and schedule appointments with healthcare providers. While the most recent report revealed early signs that the COVID-19 pandemic was changing consumer preferences for accessing care, a year into the pandemic we wanted to poll consumers again to gain a deeper understanding of its impact on their decision making. In March 2021, we surveyed 1,000 people about everything from reasons for delaying care and COVID-19 vaccine access to preferences for obtaining future care. The results revealed that consumers’ expectations have changed for good and that their experiences with care during the pandemic have led to a lasting mindset shift. As care demand rebounds, here are four changes healthcare organizations need to keep in mind: 1. Safety concerns will persist Many delayed care during the pandemic because of safety concerns, and looking at the rest of 2021, 42% of respondents said they plan to continue delaying in-person care or are unsure. Even as demand returns, organizations will need to keep proactively communicating with patients about pandemic-related updates (e.g., COVID-19 safety protocols) and educating them on their options to reduce fear and foster trust. 2. Consumer demand for virtual care is here to stay Despite being a necessity over the last few months, our results show that patients have eagerly accepted virtual care and it’s here to stay. While the majority of consumers still prefer in-person care, there is significant continued demand for virtual visits, particularly for routine and mental healthcare. To capitalize on this interest and attract new patients, healthcare organizations should focus on building long-term hybrid care delivery models that offer consumers both in-person and virtual options where appropriate. 3. Care continues to move beyond the provider office The pandemic has shown consumers that they don’t always need to go into a provider office or hospital to receive care. In fact, when asked about their preferred setting for receiving routine care, nearly one-third of respondents prefer obtaining virtual care or visiting an urgent care or retail clinic. Also, 37% said that speed of access would have the biggest impact on where they sought care post-pandemic, second only to insurance coverage (48%), indicating an opportunity for organizations to win loyalty by expanding access to convenient care. 4. Online scheduling is a key part of the post-pandemic future Kyruus’ most recent consumer research, which found 43% prefer to schedule their appointments online. As the demand for digital care navigation grows, only accelerated by the pandemic, the bar for patient experience continues to rise. Healthcare organizations wishing to stand out need to invest in their online scheduling programs, enabling consumers to self-schedule a growing variety of services and appointment types. Want additional insight into the pandemic’s impact on patient preferences? Read our Patient Access Post-Pandemic Report.
From fighting COVID-19 to deploying telehealth platforms rapidly, the last 12 months have certainly presented the healthcare industry and those that work in it with a number of new – and unpredictable – challenges. However, the last 12 months have also been full of learnings and growth, teaching organizations how to drive greater alignment when executing strategic initiatives and engage with consumers in new and innovative ways.
As we discussed in the first blog of our series, How to Increase Awareness of and Access to Virtual Care, virtual care has seen a surge in adoption since the onset of the pandemic earlier this year. While it is very important for healthcare organizations to look for ways to market these services and ensure access to information about which providers deliver care virtually, it is just as important to look at the experiences patients are having with virtual care.
How to read this graph: The boxes represent if a term appeared in the top 10 condition-based search terms for a day within a given week, while the darkness of the color represents the volume of the searches for those terms.* As of this week, the CDC reported more than 1M confirmed cases of COVID-19 and close to 70K deaths across the United States. Yet, despite these grim figures, data indicates that several states may have reached their peaks, including former hotspot, New York City, where there has been a continued decline in both deaths and hospitalizations due to COVID-19. Meanwhile, other states have already begun the process of reopening their economies. So now the conversation for health systems is starting to shift from simply how to respond to the pandemic to what steps to take to move forward and open up more access for unrelated appointment needs.
How to read this graph: The bars illustrate the total number of searches for a term (e.g. diabetes) over the month via the Kyruus ProviderMatch platform and the heatmap breaks the data out by week. While people across the world have had to adjust their lives in the face of the coronavirus crisis, hospitals, health systems, their staff, and the patients turning to them for care have undoubtedly felt the greatest impact. Healthcare organizations face the tough task of not only caring for the influx of patients needing assessment and care for coronavirus, but also ensuring they effectively facilitate care for patients in their communities with non-COVID-related medical needs, such as chronic conditions, mental health, and cancer.
This is the first in a three part series focused on helping healthcare leaders understand how different generations access care to improve engagement and brand loyalty. Did you know that millennials are projected to overtake Baby Boomers as the largest generation in 2019? In 2016, they numbered 71 million, while Baby Boomers numbered 74 million.1 However, with millennials about to represent the largest contingency of the US population, health systems need to strategize ways to not only understand the needs of these younger consumers, but also develop programs to capture their attention and win their loyalty.