When COVID-19 spread across the globe in 2020, it unleashed a devastating effect on people and businesses and altered the course of health care. In one of the first nationwide aggregate COVID-19 claims studies, Cigna explored how extensive the first-year impact of the pandemic is shaping the future of health care.
- Impact on virtual health: Before the pandemic, virtual visits made up just over 1% of all medical and behavioral professional office visits that could be conducted virtually. Now, they make up nearly 25%.
- Primary care and behavioral services were the largest specialties utilized virtually in 2020:
Over 1/5 of primary care was performed virtually and nearly 2/3 of behavioral care was performed virtually. Percentage of visits conducted virtually, by specialty:
- Increasing comfort with virtual care: Over half of Americans (58%) are comfortable with virtual consultations replacing in-person visits, especially if it: Was more convenient (can remain at home/work): 47% Decreased costs: 44% Allowed for free virtual follow-ups: 37% Allowed for long-distance care (if out of the area/traveling): 35%.
- Telehealth is the future :Three-quarters see a future of health care at home. As many as 76 % believed that more care will be delivered at home vs. in a typical health care setting in the future, with middle-aged adults among those most likely to agree (81% of those were aged 35-44)
- Pediatric care is an exception: Telehealth cannot replace all in-person professional services: Pediatric care was largely still performed in-person. Only 12.9% of pediatric visits were conducted virtually