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.”