Are pandemic concerns keeping Americans away from the doctor’s office?

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Kelly Chapman

Account Director, Healthcare Specialty Lead
09.04.2020

More Americans have turned to telemedicine and some are avoiding the doctor altogether as healthcare professionals continue to grapple with COVID-19’s impacts on their patients and their practices. But when the pandemic abates, will people return? Or will virtual visits be part of “the new normal”? Mower recently polled 1,020 U.S. adults* to learn more about consumer perceptions on healthcare in the post-COVID landscape.

The doctor will Zoom you now.

While an earlier Mower study (April 2020) showed that only 16% of U.S. adults had tried telemedicine before the pandemic, 42% now say they would be interested in virtual doctor’s appointments even after COVID has been resolved. And the numbers are higher for older Americans, with 48% of Gen X and older respondents expressing interest, compared to 37% of millennials and 24% of Gen Zers.

Younger adults, meanwhile, are more open to continuing virtual dental appointments for services, like creating molds of teeth, that don’t require an in-person visit. This includes 26% of Gen Z and 25% millennial respondents, compared to only 10% of Gen X and 6% of boomer and silent generation respondents.

Younger adults are more likely to delay medical treatments during COVID.

Have COVID concerns kept Americans away from the doctor? One in three U.S. adults—including a striking 69% of Gen Zers—say they have delayed a medication, treatment or procedure due to the pandemic. Older respondents were less likely to let the pandemic interrupt their medical care, with only 19% of boomers and silents reporting delays.

While 10% of Americans postponed a minor elective procedure, such as a biopsy or tooth extraction, Gen Zers were most likely to have delayed treatment of a chronic health condition, such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer. In fact, 19% reported they had done so.

COVID has cooled consumers on long-term-care facilities.

With the pandemic hitting nursing homes particularly hard, 55% of Americans say it has changed how they feel about long-term-care facilities for themselves or a loved one. As many as 39% are more likely now to consider alternatives, such as a home health aide, certified nurse assistant or care from a family member or friend. Of the 30% who would still be open to a long-term-care facility, more than half would do more research than they would have pre-COVID to find the proper fit. Almost one in three adults say they have never—and will never—consider long-term-care facilities an option.

Gen Z perceptions have shifted the most. Only one in five of these youngest adults were opposed to long-term care before the pandemic, but now more than half would seek alternatives.

Budging the least are baby boomers and silents, more than half of whom have not changed their views on long-term care. This includes 38% who say long-term care has never been an option and 17% who say they would still consider it despite the pandemic.

For more insights on consumer behaviors around healthcare during the COVID crisis and what they mean for the industry, feel free to contact me.

*Mower conducted a survey on June 22–24, 2020, with a random sampling of 1,020 U.S. adults ages 18+. Responses were obtained using Dynata, a research panel provider (margin of error: +/- 3.1%).

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