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Post COVID-19: 4 Healthcare Consumer Behavior Changes from the Pandemic

Patients in waiting room

Healthcare consumer behavior has changed since the pandemic began and continues to change as the situation evolves into an endemic. 

Over the years, PatientBond has executed several market research studies, but our latest one gives a clearer picture of healthcare consumer behavior during this time and what to expect coming out of the pandemic.

In this blog, we will look at some of the ways healthcare consumer behavior has shifted based on PatientBond market research insights.

Physician trust depends on the psychographic segment.

Healthcare leaders faced numerous challenges in the early pandemic days, but one they continue to face is a lack of trust among a portion of the healthcare consumer population. Much of this is due to inconsistent communication among all healthcare entities, but there are also other factors at play.

In a PatientBond market research study, healthcare consumers were asked for their level of agreement or disagreement with the following statement: My doctor is the most credible authority for my health and wellness needs. In 2018, 61% of the general population strongly agreed/agreed with the statement and now, the number has gone up slightly to 63.7%. When looking at the psychographic segments, which are segments of consumers that are differentiated based on their internal motivations, the data get more interesting.

Among segments, 90% of Direction Takers strongly agree/agree with the statement and are statistically more likely than the others to do so. But Balance Seekers are statistically more likely than the others to disagree/strongly disagree with the statement with 45.5% feeling this way, up from 40% in 2018.

Direction Takers are known to put a lot of trust in their doctors while Balance Seekers are wary of their approaches to care and are willing to look for alternatives. Note, Balance Seekers generally pursue healthy lifestyles; this segment doesn’t avoid health issues, but they are likely to be proactive in an independent and self-reliant manner.

Telehealth is here to stay, but not dominate.

PatientBond predicted telehealth would take off in healthcare in 2020, not knowing that 2 months later it would make an extraordinary leap instead.

Prior to the pandemic, only 8% of Americans tried telehealth and according to PatientBond market research, just 15% of the general population was open to using it in 2018. When PatientBond asked healthcare consumers if they would be willing to use telehealth for care for immediate non-life-threatening issues, 46.1% of the general population said they are extremely/very open and willing to do it, a far cry from several years ago. Among segments, 55.9% of Self Achievers are statistically more likely to do it than all other segments except Balance Seekers (49.5%).

Telehealth may not be as big as it was at the beginning of the pandemic, but it’s not going away with a revenue projection of $20 billion in five years.

There’s more to life than health.

Health is important, but when healthcare consumers had to choose between finding contentment in their life and staying healthy during COVID, it changed things.

According to PatientBond market research, when asked about their level of agreement or disagreement with the following statement, There are better things in life to focus on than healthy behavior, 20.5% of the general population strongly agreed/agreed with this statement in 2021. That percentage went up to 24.1% in 2022 with a 5% increase from Willful Endurers (42.6% in 2021 to 47.6% in 2022). This segment is statistically more likely to agree with this statement than any other segment, which makes sense since Willful Endurers’ approach to life and health is to live in the moment. But each segment had a percentage bump in this statement between 2021 and 2022.

As providers and insurers come out of the pandemic, this is a notable statistic considering Willful Endurers make up around a third of healthcare consumers. Messaging and communications need to reflect that while their health is important, there needs to be an understanding about personal motivations and priorities. 

The mindset of taking time off work for illness is changing.

When we asked healthcare consumers their level of agreement or disagreement with the statement, I don't let being sick get in the way of my work, 55.5% of the general population said they strongly agree/agree with this statement, down from 60% in 2018. Healthcare consumers generally seem more willing to address their health issues even if it means taking time from work.

When it comes to this statement, Priority Jugglers are statistically more likely than any other segment to strongly agree/agree with this statement. This makes sense because this segment is motivated by their duty to family and others in their life and willing to forgo their well-being for others. Self Achievers disagree/strongly disagree with this statement more now than they did in 2018, with 24.7% feeling this way in 2022 versus 18% in 2018. Self Achievers are very invested in their health goals and likely felt that more during the pandemic.

COVID changed some aspects of how healthcare consumers navigate their healthcare journey through changes in behavior. As a result, providers and insurers should embrace the motivations that have been enhanced by this time and use them to improve the patient experience through technology. Learn more in our whitepaper, The Current State of Healthcare Consumer Technology.

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