As we discussed in the first two blogs of this series, before the onset of COVID-19, virtual care was used rather infrequently, in fact few health systems even provided the option for receiving care. However, when the pandemic struck, we saw many organizations pivot quickly and rapidly implement virtual care programs to expand access to safe and timely care. And for the most part, patients eagerly adopted it and have been overwhelmingly satisfied with their virtual care experiences. In fact, our recent report, Patient Perspectives on Virtual Care, found that almost three-quarters of respondents wanted the option of virtual visits as part of their standard care moving forward and half would switch providers for the offering. Even now, as some health systems have resumed in-person visits, the desire for virtual visits remains high–many of our customers are still seeing the same number of virtual visits as they did this summer.
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.
Prior to this year, the majority of healthcare consumers had little experience with virtual care. Now, just six months later, most health systems are utilizing virtual care offerings as a way to enable access to care for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, according to our newest research report, Patient Perspectives on Virtual Care, 72% of patients had their first-ever virtual care visit this year. While initial reports indicate that the utilization of virtual care offerings has skyrocketed, what does the experience look like? How are patients finding out about and accessing these virtual care offerings?
There is little doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly reshaped the delivery of care in the United States. We have seen health systems rapidly deploy technologies that previously lacked broad adoption, like virtual care and chat assistants, seemingly overnight. However, we have also seen consumers, hungry for information about COVID-19 and available healthcare resources, eagerly adopt these methods of accessing care.
While its effect has varied across different types of organizations, the coronavirus pandemic has had an extensive impact on all U.S. health systems. Even though many believe COVID-19 is “kinder” to children than adults, children’s hospitals have faced their own unique challenges, as parents and caregivers seek safe physical and mental health care for minors. To look at the impact of COVID-19 on these types of organizations, Kyruus held a virtual forum series last month featuring Seth Bokser, M.D., a Pediatric Hospitalist at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Benioff Children’s Hospital and Clinical Professor at the UCSF Department of Pediatrics; and Jennifer Magaziner, Senior Director of Strategy and Digital Innovation at Boston Children’s Hospital.
The digital front door is not a new concept in healthcare. Before COVID-19, many organizations were already investing in their digital properties to capture the attention of healthcare consumers. While most had patient portals and find-a-providers, some driving engagement beyond their site by using local listings, adoption for newer technologies, like mobile applications, virtual care, and online scheduling remained low.