The COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost everything about our everyday lives, from the way we shop to how we work to the choices we make when seeking out medical help when needed.
The following are ways that COVID-19 has changed patient behavior and choices, likely for good.
1. Patients Are Putting Off Care
Pre-COVID, Americans with adequate health insurance may have been quick to make a visit to the doctor or emergency room when symptoms of a medical condition arose, no matter how mild or severe. But with COVID-19 in the picture, patients are more likely to defer their medical care out of fear of potentially exposing themselves to the virus. According to a recent survey by Accenture that polled 2,700 patients, about 70 percent of patients either deferred or cancelled their medical appointments because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Not only have patients been putting off their own care, but medical professionals themselves have been canceling appointments, and clinical trials have even been disrupted because of the pandemic.
2. More Patients Are Seeking Virtual Care
In the wake of diminishing in-person care, more and more patients are seeking out virtual care instead. Many healthcare providers are only offering telehealth options and have completely shut down traditional medical appointments.
This has forced both healthcare practitioners and patients to learn how to use the technologies involved in virtual medical care. These tools have become essential in maintaining open communication between patients and their doctors and nurses. Although there may have initially been some apprehension about participating in virtual care, an increasing number of Americans are embracing it.
The Accenture survey found that almost half of all patients claim to now be receiving treatment at home rather than visiting their healthcare provider’s facility in person.
Telemedicine has allowed healthcare providers to maintain the patient experience, and sometimes even improve it. Patients are increasingly welcoming the convenience of getting medical advice from the comfort of their homes without the need to commute and deal with issues of accessibility. They also appreciate the lower costs associated with telemedicine compared to conventional doctor’s appointments.
3. Patients Have More Trust in Healthcare
It may have taken some time to get here, but it appears that more patients have put their trust in the healthcare system to provide necessary medical care, despite the hurdles that the coronavirus pandemic has thrust upon the industry. The Accenture survey found that overall trust in the healthcare system has increased. More specifically, 67 percent of the respondents of the survey said their trust in healthcare workers has increased.
Further, 47 percent of those polled reported that they received better medical responses, and 40 percent said the new communications channels have improved accessibility.
What has not changed, however, is the need to pay for medical care. Patients still need to cover the cost of their medical appointments and treatments, even if their care is being handled predominantly via telemedicine.
Rather than deal with the ever-rising costs of health insurance, Americans have other options, including health sharing ministries. As a member of a Christian health sharing ministry, you can take advantage of more flexibility and affordability without sacrificing quality of care.
At UHSM, we offer several different programs to accommodate various needs and budgets. Find out more about how a health sharing program can save you money while increasing flexibility and convenience. Get in touch with UHSM today or click here to see how much you can save with a health share program.