NEW YORK, Dec. 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The COVID-19 pandemic changed many aspects of Americans' lives and a new study has found that healthcare is no exception. From telehealth consults to wearable devices to retail clinics, consumers' attitudes and behaviors about healthcare have shifted markedly over the past two years, according to the 2021 Oliver Wyman Consumer Healthcare Survey.

(PRNewsfoto/Oliver Wyman)

"It's no surprise that the pandemic drove consumers to find new ways to manage their health and access care," said Sarah Snider, Partner, Health and Life Sciences at Oliver Wyman. "What this survey reveals is how much we have adapted our attitudes and behaviors over the past two years. There is broader consumer use of technology for health and healthcare needs as well as a new acceptance of non-traditional resources for care."

The survey was fielded among more than 7,000 respondents from August 2 to September 8 by management consulting firm Oliver Wyman. This was its first large-scale consumer healthcare survey since 2018. Some key findings include:

Greater acceptance of virtual health
The use of virtual health services—including video, telephone and text/chat—tripled since the previous survey conducted in 2018. Now, more than 33% of survey respondents reported having at least one video visit with a healthcare provider during the pandemic. For 85% of respondents, the pandemic was the first time they used any kind of virtual care.

Consumer satisfaction with the care they received during virtual sessions was also high, with 29% saying they were much more satisfied with the video visit compared with a traditional office visit and 38% saying their satisfaction was about the same. 

Use of smart devices is rising
The pandemic also increased interest in using smart devices. Nearly half of respondents (46%) have used a wearable, smart device or other mechanism to track and monitor their health metrics at least some of the time since the pandemic began. Not surprisingly, younger generations are much more likely to use these devices: 59% of Generation Z and 64% of millennials say they use one at least some of the time, compared with 29% of baby boomers and 16% of the Silent Generation.

Urgent care and retail clinics gain traction
When in-person care is needed for certain conditions, consumers are willing to use alternatives to their regular doctor. Although 90% of survey respondents have a primary care provider, more than 33% sought in-person care at an urgent care clinic and 20% received care at a grocery or drugstore clinic. Use of those retail clinics more than doubled since Oliver Wyman's last healthcare survey in 2018.

As with virtual care, consumer satisfaction with these clinics was high. Of those who used an urgent care clinic, 51% rated their satisfaction level as better or much better than the doctor's office and 40% rated it about the same. Retail health clinics fared just as well, with 49% rating their satisfaction as better or much better and 41% rating it about the same.

Getting mental health care was a challenge
The pandemic exacerbated the mental health crisis and more than one-third (37%) of survey respondents thought about seeking support during the pandemic. About 65% of those actually saw a doctor or mental health professional.

For those who considered but didn't get help, 26% couldn't find a provider in-network or who accepted their insurance, 26% couldn't get an appointment that was convenient, and 14% couldn't find a provider who used virtual care options.

"These data show how consumers are challenging industry leaders to serve them in ways that are more affordable, accessible and meaningful," said Sam Glick, Global Leader, Health and Life Sciences at Oliver Wyman. "Every healthcare company must now be a consumer company or risk long-term irrelevance."

The 2021 Oliver Wyman Consumer Healthcare Survey also explored other behaviors including who and what influences decision-making and attitudes about health insurance plans. Additional findings are available upon request.

About Oliver Wyman
Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting. With offices in 60 cities across 29 countries, Oliver Wyman combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management and organization transformation. The firm has more than 5,000 professionals around the world who work with clients to optimize their business, improve their operations and risk profile and accelerate their organizational performance to seize the most attractive opportunities.

Oliver Wyman is a business of Marsh McLennan [NYSE: MMC]. For more information, visit www.oliverwyman.com. Follow Oliver Wyman on Twitter @OliverWyman.

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SOURCE Oliver Wyman

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