The Doctor Will See You Now

At ENGINE, we’ve been actively tracking consumer sentiment on a number of fronts related to COVID-19, most recently a CARAVAN study of over 1,000 consumers (patients) regarding how their healthcare experiences have changed with COVID-19 restrictions in place. So, what are we hearing? An already harrowing human experience just got worse – going to the doctor. In fact, 44% of patients report avoiding the doctor’s office or hospital because of the crisis for fear of getting sick as a result of a visit. We’re hearing “I’m afraid to be face-to-face in a doctor’s office.”

But we also know that insurance, technology and service providers are all working on-the-go to solve for COVID-19 related changes in the patient experience. Everything from holding-in-place inside your vehicle to avoiding waiting rooms to interacting with doctors, nurses and medical staff behind cover-alls and cover-ups. And, while the first wave of changes – rightly related to keeping patients and staff healthy – may have struck even more fear into the hearts of visitors, the optimist in me says that the next wave of changes will support improved virtual care. Out of necessity, the pandemic has supported the trial and adoption of telemedicine visits with 38% of patients responding they’ve tried or increased their use of virtual appointments; and, as we continue to manage through the pandemic, that number will undoubtedly rise.

So, what’s next that will keep us healthy AND comfortable?

Advanced home screening technologies that pass real-time data to doctors for diagnosis and treatment? Physicians on-call with far greater convenience for after and off-hour consultation, available anytime a patient gets sick? I’m sure we’re well on our way on both of these fronts, and more, especially given that the COVID-19 driven need for virtual should only serve to accelerate the industry’s push to digital to balance out the cost-of-service. Perhaps the pandemic will leave a legacy of convenience and access as communications technologies play their most important role in our lives yet – supporting our everyday health needs.

Written by Jim Nelson, SVP at ENGINE Insights.