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No one could have predicted the events of the last six months: a global pandemic, school-from-home, work-from-home, the death of RBG...the list goes on. During a time in which our day-to-day is continuously new and unprecedented, it’s only natural that we search for aspects of life we can control - and one facet of life we can all easily manipulate is our own health and wellness.
OBERLAND’s latest study, There Is No Normal, Only New: Checking Up on Virtual Care found that 84% of Americans have become more proactive about their health and its management since COVID-19 began. This charge has manifested in a variety of ways, from increased vitamin intake to exercising more frequently, to how we manage and receive our healthcare. COVID-19 flipped the switch on in-person care when going to a doctor’s office became more of a health threat than a respite, and amid the absence of in-person options, Americans were propelled into using health technology - from telehealth appointments, medical trackers and even fitness apps - to manage their well-being. In fact, 71% of Americans have used telehealth for care appointments during COVID-19 and a majority (64%) have also started using wearable technology to better track lifestyle habits since the pandemic began.
But what started as a stand-in for in-person care has quickly become a preferred method of health care and management for many Americans. Six months into the pandemic, only 22% of Americans say they are currently using telehealth out of necessity. Americans are opting to connect with doctors virtually for its convenience (43%) and safety benefits (36%), and have no plans of returning to the old, in-person ways; 71% of Americans say they are likely to continue using telehealth once the pandemic ends. This highlights the extent to which Americans believe the many “pros” of telehealth - like reduced wait times and instant access to doctors - outweigh what virtual care may lack, such as in-person relationships with doctors and close examinations.
This shift to health technologies for care management translates well beyond physical health. With 83% of Americans reporting they feel more stressed since COVID-19 began, mental wellness and virtual therapy apps like Calm, Talkspace and Betterhelp have become a lifeline for many Americans grappling with their mental wellness during this challenging time. A majority of Americans have relied on these services since COVID-19 began, and nearly one in three (30%) of individuals who attended therapy in-person prior to COVID-19 say they will now opt for virtual sessions post-pandemic.
While many brands tout that their health innovations can make care more accessible (think “doctors on demand anytime, anywhere” and “instant access to your health data”), our study found that lower income households (< $75K) have far lower adoption rates than wealthier households. This can be attributed to barriers like high price points of technology and insurance requirements in order to connect with a doctor. As health innovations continue to grow as a primary channel for health care and management, brands in the space must be more mindful of accessibility. If a virtual care brand is truly committed to making healthcare more accessible for all, it must acknowledge - and find a solution for - these barriers. Regardless of income level, consumers are on board with a lower price-point for health innovations; nearly half (48%) of Americans believe health technology should be more affordable.
As health technologies continue to permeate the care space, Americans are more likely now than ever to turn to these new innovations for their health needs. This begs an enormous opportunity for brands to innovate tech solutions for more specialized conditions (think pregnancy tracking like Nuvo) and more acute needs. It’s up to brands to show consumers the way of the future, and how technology can help them control their health and wellness no matter what comes their way.
Want more? Read our initial There Is No Normal, Only New report here.