In the midst of a pandemic, patients are more interested in their health

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A CVS Health survey found that patients are more eager to receive personalized health care and achieve their health goals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers administered the survey to 1,000 adult patients and 400 physicians in March to better understand trends in healthcare over the past 12 months.

A new survey suggests patients are paying more attention to their health amid the pandemic.
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According to CVS Health, 77% of patients said the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a greater focus on their own health, and 50% said stay-at-home orders helped them meet their health goals.

The survey also revealed trends in health care use, including a slight shift away from primary care. Routine care from primary care providers increased from 62% in 2020 to 56% in 2021, with more patients preferring to use online resources (19% vs. 12%), community health centers (19% vs. 15 %) and local pharmacies (17% vs. 11%) in 2021 compared to 2020. In the past 12 months, 57% of patients reported using virtual care for a care visit.

Chairman and CEO of CVS Santé Karen S. Lynch said in a press release that the past 18 months have brought about a “dramatic shift in consumer health care preferences and needs.”

“These changes towards personalized care have the potential to impact our health system well beyond the pandemic, with many people taking a more committed approach to their own health,” she said. “Going forward, we have the opportunity to build on what we have learned and continue to foster an integrated model of health focused on the needs of the individual.

Opportunities for physicians

Despite a greater focus on health during the pandemic, many patients reported having substance abuse and mental health issues. Twenty-one percent of adult patients reported consuming more nicotine, 10% drinking more alcohol, and 10% using more opioids than in previous years. Additionally, 35% of adults aged 18 to 34 reported depression in the past 12 months, and 28% reported mental illness, making this age group the highest to report these conditions, according to the press release. Among those aged 18 to 34, 74% did not seek mental health services to treat their illness (s) and 28% cited cost as the reason.

Kyu Rhee, MD, MPP, CVS Health’s senior vice president and Aetna’s chief medical officer told Healio Primary Care that the survey results highlight opportunities for physicians to “capitalize on the close relationship” with patients.

Kyu Rhee

According to Rhee, 71% of healthcare providers who responded to the survey said all or most of their patients proactively discuss or ask questions about their medications and associated costs, adherence and events. unwanted. However, only 33% of patients discuss their socioeconomic status. Additionally, 80% of healthcare providers said they “always or often” discuss the importance of adherence with their patients, but only 44% discuss healthcare costs.

In adult patients:

  • 61% said their health care provider had not asked them about the affordability of health care and / or discussed mechanisms that can help cover health care costs;
  • 25% said they were “little or not familiar” with the reimbursable costs they pay for medical care; and
  • 23% said they did not know how to review their health plan to understand reimbursable expenses.

“Extend virtual care offerings, prescribe generics or ensure that the prescription aligns with a patient’s health plan form and ensure that orders for services like radiology and other tests include Lower cost care sites that are covered by patient insurance are just some of the ways providers can help increase accessibility and affordability, ”said Rhee.

Gender differences in health care trends

The survey also highlighted differences in the way women and men use healthcare and their well-being during the pandemic. From the data:

  • 27% of women generally used nurse practitioners for health information, compared to 21% of men;
  • 73% of women saw annual check-ups as a reason to contact their PCP, compared to 58% of men;
  • 86% of women wanted PCPs to know about their alcohol consumption, compared to 79% of men;
  • 68% of women said they were “happy” with their social relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to 80% of men; and
  • 70% of men said the COVID-19 pandemic had a “high / moderate impact” on the stress of caring for children who live at home, compared to 59% of women.

The poll also showed that 25% of men said they would go to an emergency department or emergency care clinic for “routine care for a minor illness”, compared with 18% of women, a Rhee said.

This particular data point offers primary care physicians “a clear opportunity to involve their male patients more proactively in their own health care,” said Rhee.

“Doctors can also help their patients access care more easily through virtual health offers; learn how to pay better for their drugs, tests and other health care; and access community resources for mental health and other critical health care needs, ”he said.

The references:

CVS Health. New CVS health study finds people are taking better control of their health in the wake of the pandemic. Accessed July 15, 2021.

CVS Health. The 2021 Health Care Insights study (summary). Accessed July 15, 2021.

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