In many of our recent blogs, we have talked about the disruption the pandemic has caused in healthcare, how it has changed the healthcare landscape, and reshaped the patient journey. With many organizations having already pivoted (and some continuing to do so), the conversation has become “what’s next?” Though COVID-19 cases remain high in many areas, now is the time to start thinking about recovery and what it could look like.
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.
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Without question COVID-19 has caused incredible disruption to industries across the board, with the healthcare sector experiencing some of the greatest challenges. At the same time, however, the pandemic has been a catalyst for rapid innovation, revealing opportunities to rethink and transform approaches to care delivery and access. From learning to operate remote call centers to looking for more digitally-enabled ways to engage with patients (e.g., virtual care, virtual assistants), the pandemic has pushed health systems to reimagine—and quickly—their approaches to enabling patient access.
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?