Quick look: The pandemic turned the medical industry upside down, but as the dust settles, what trends in healthcare are here to stay? CVS’ 2022 Health Care Insights Study reveals that people care about their health as much, or more, than they did compared to pre-pandemic. Here we review key findings from the report and discuss how brokers can lean on their PEO partner to provide the most desired benefits to their clients.
While the pandemic’s peak has hopefully passed, the medical industry has permanently changed. But which trends in healthcare are here to stay, and which have faded away?
To answer that question, CVS partnered with research consulting firm Market Measurement to conduct its 2022 Health Care Insights Study. The research surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers aged 18 and older from across the nation.
To represent medical professionals, the study surveyed 400 healthcare providers with at least two years of experience, including 175 primary care providers (PCPs), 75 registered nurses (RNs) and licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs), 75 pharmacists, and 75 physician assistants.
The study found that patients embrace a more holistic view of health, no longer delay checkups and screenings due to pandemic-related worries, and desire efficient care and meaningful relationships with their PCPs.
Here are five key trends in healthcare that the research revealed:
1. Stronger connections
Now more than ever, people want to foster long-term, involved relationships with their healthcare providers.
Over 80% of patients think it’s important that their PCP is aware of their overall happiness and satisfaction with their lives and want their providers to understand their stress levels and how they cope with challenging situations. Similarly, 80% want their PCP to be aware of their health goals, and 94% trust their providers the same amount or more than before the pandemic.
Healthcare professionals also hope to have this level of connection with their patients. Nearly 90% wish they had more time to care for patients with complex conditions.
2. A focus on holistic health
The pandemic caused many to see health in a new light. Instead of a siloed approach to medical care, many are embracing a holistic view. According to the study:
- 22% of patients report that the pandemic has made them care more about their health than ever before
- 44% have adopted new health habits or goals because of the pandemic
- 54% of patients say holistic health care options involving diet, exercise, and counseling are very or somewhat important to them
- 57% of providers believe access to mental health professionals would be very helpful to their patients
- 48% of providers always or often refer patients to a mental health professional to help them achieve a specific goal
3. Cohesive collaboration
Just like consumers and providers want synergy to exist between the different aspects of health, they also think that streamlined communication between a patient’s various doctors is important.
According to the CVS study, 60% of people who take a specialty medication for complex conditions feel communication between their PCP and specialist is very important, and 32% think it’s somewhat important. Additionally, 85% believe it’s important that their PCP is aware of drugs prescribed to them by other doctors, and 83% say it’s important their PCP is aware of the other doctors they are seeing and their diagnoses and recommendations.
Doctors agree with these sentiments. The research shows that approximately two-thirds of them feel that coordinating with their patients’ other doctors has a high to moderate impact on their ability to achieve their patients’ desired outcomes. Additionally, 64% believe that offering their patients access to other providers to coordinate care has a high to moderate impact on results.
4. Streamlined technology
Considering the steep increase in usage of digital tools during the pandemic, it should come as no surprise that technology was a major highlight in the CVS report. The research reviewed three major topics related to healthcare technology: automation, convenience, and telehealth services.
According to the study, easier is better when it comes to healthcare information. The survey revealed that patients and providers prefer automated reminders (including texts and phone calls) to convey timely health-related information. Specifically, the data shows that:
- 87% of providers strongly or somewhat agree that automated reminders help treat patients with complex conditions or specialty medication needs
- 89% of people who take specialty medications or have a complex condition say automated medication refill reminders are very or somewhat important
- The following percentages of consumers want to receive reminders about:
- Appointments (83%)
- Prescription refills (79%)
- Annual checkups (78%)
- Routine testing and preventive care (75%)
- 65% of patients say it’s important that they monitor their health with mobile apps, wearable devices, and more
- 42% of providers have an online portal, and 43% have mobile apps
At the heart of what today’s patients and medical professionals want is convenience. Some of the biggest trends in healthcare, from text message reminders to telehealth visits, are rooted in the desire to achieve successful outcomes with the least friction possible.
CVS’ study reflects this and found that:
- 92% of patients believe that convenience trumps all and report that convenience is an important factor when choosing a PCP
- 41% of patients think it’s important to be able to have a walk-in medical appointment
- Patients believe that telehealth visits satisfy this need for convenience because they:
- Didn’t have to leave home (42%)
- Didn’t have to pay transportation costs (37%)
- Saved time (37%)
Virtual doctor visits became popular during the pandemic, but recent data shows that the trend is here to stay. The usage of telehealth services grew from less than 1% before COVID-19 to 13% within the first six months of the virus. As of August 2021, usage has settled near 8%.
The CVS study’s statistics for 2022 revealed that:
- 59% of patients believe having access to virtual and telehealth services is important.
- 40% of consumers have attended virtual visits during the last 12 months, and 35% are very likely to consider virtual visits if a physical exam is unnecessary.
- 71% of patients think a virtual mental health visit would be more convenient than an in-person one, and almost half would be very likely or somewhat likely to seek out mental health services if they involved virtual visits.
- 54% of providers host virtual office visits. Over half of them believe this has increased the number of patient visits, 93% think it’s encouraged patients to schedule more appointments, and 88% feel it’s increased the rate at that patients keep their appointments.
5. Controlled costs
Making ends meet is becoming more difficult as inflation continues to rise. The average U.S. household spent a whopping $445 more in September 2022 to buy the same goods and services as they did one year prior.
The tightening of Americans’ wallets extends to their stance on healthcare spending. According to the CVS report, 86% of patients say cost is very important or somewhat important when choosing a PCP.
Furthermore, the research showed that people skip care if it’s too expensive, and half of the patients have moderate to high levels of concern about paying for medical office visits. Around 60% of Black and Hispanic patients had this concern, and it’s something that providers are discussing with them. Half of the Hispanic and 45% of Black patients claim their provider regularly discusses medical costs with them.
Medical professionals are noticing the pinch, too. The data shows that:
- 36% say most of their patients face challenges paying for prescription drugs
- 11% claim all their patients face prescription drug price challenges
- 90% state that cost of care is a top concern for their patients aged 65 and older
Do your solutions address the latest trends in healthcare?
The healthcare industry has flipped upside down in a relatively short time. As a broker, it’s critical to remain aware of industry developments and ensure you’re offering the most relevant solutions to help your clients remain competitive.
Working with a professional employer organization (PEO) like ExtensisHR can enable you to do just that. Not only do we keep a pulse on the latest trends in healthcare (and more), but our economies of scale allow you to offer affordable, Fortune 500-level benefits to your clients, including:
- Medical, dental, and vision insurance with plans that include telehealth services, health savings accounts (HSAs), and flexible savings accounts (FSAs)
- Ancillary benefits, including family-forming support, pet insurance, and more
- 401(k) retirement plans
- And more
Are you looking to provide your clients with the latest and greatest healthcare benefits? Contact the experts at ExtensisHR today.