Green Shield Canada survey reveals growing interest in virtual healthcare

Physical distancing requirements have changed the healthcare environment, benefits provider observes

Green Shield Canada survey reveals growing interest in virtual healthcare

Insurance News

By Lyle Adriano

A survey conducted by Green Shield Canada (GSC) suggests that there is “rapidly increasing interest” in virtual healthcare services, as physical distancing measures in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has deterred health plan members from in-person interactions.

Surveying 500 of its health benefits plan members, 74% of respondents indicated that they were willing to use a virtual service to consult with a physician. Other virtual healthcare-related findings included:

  • 67% said they would fill a prescription form from an online pharmacy.
  • 43% said they would seek online mental health support – most notably, 63% of survey participants from the 18-34 age group were open to the concept of online mental health support.
  • A quarter of survey participants expressed interest in virtual physiotherapy, and 19% were also interested in virtual chiropractic consultations.

GSC also noted that 78% of respondents believe their health plans should include virtual healthcare options from now on. More than half (56%) also indicated that the current health crisis has made them more open to the idea of using virtual healthcare.

“This is a dramatic shift in interest and attitude to virtual health,” commented GSC executive vice-president of digital, innovation and brand experience David Willows.

The survey also gauged whether consumers were willing to seek medical care in-person when a vaccine for COVID-19 has yet to be developed. While 62% of respondents said they would be likely to attend a normal dentist visit during the pre-vaccine period, 25% said they would not. In terms of paramedical services, only 34% of respondents indicated they were willing to attend an in-person session; while 29% said they would do so for massage; and 28% for chiropractic care.

“In total, our survey data suggests that suppliers of traditional healthcare will need to confront and act on the hesitancy of many former patients to re-engage in previously standard treatments,” said Willows. “In addition, providers of health benefits plans – both private payors and Government – will need to consider their next moves in increasing access to virtual services whose conveniences and safety Canadians are likely to seek out in both a pre and post vaccine world.”

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