March 2021 comes with mixed emotions, as people across the United States reflect on one year of life in the era of COVID-19. From a rollercoaster of lockdown restrictions, isolation, mask-wearing and socially distancing, to finally experiencing a glimmer of hope with increasing vaccine distribution – it’s safe to say the past 12 months have been anything but ordinary.
People living with chronic conditions have faced a unique set of challenges throughout the pandemic thus far; to capture a holistic understanding of patient attitudes and behaviors across multiple moments in time, Health Union fielded a series of online surveys among its condition-specific online communities. With a variety of restrictions, in-person access to healthcare providers became limited, which introduced a more widespread use of telehealth.
At the one year mark – as Health Union prepares to survey its communities once again – let’s reflect on what we’ve learned about telehealth use and experiences, and the role it has played in continuity of care:
March 2020: Growing Concern and Social Distancing
To set the scene, many states were entering the first week of stay-at-home orders during the timeframe of Health Union’s first survey. Unsurprisingly, 71%* of respondents reported feeling “very concerned” about the novel coronavirus.
At the onset of lockdown in the U.S., just 23% said they either had or planned to have a telehealth appointment.
April 2020: Telehealth Use Doubles
The second survey captured an initial uptick in telehealth usage, with 48% of respondents reporting they either had or planned to have a telehealth appointment.
At the time of the survey, roughly half of respondents found telehealth acceptable, but would prefer to return to face-to-face visits in the future. However, those who used telehealth due to COVID-19 reported that they are 75% more likely to want to continue using it for regular check-ups after the pandemic.
Download Health Union’s webinar recording, COVID-19 and Chronic Conditions: The Critical Patient Perspective, for full findings from the first two survey waves.
May 2020: Experiences with Telehealth Largely Positive
Nearly six in 10 respondents living with chronic conditions said they were worried about resuming normal activities at the time of Health Union’s third survey. Nearly half of respondents reported a virtual visit in the past four months at the time surveyed, and 27% noted they’d want to use telehealth even after the pandemic.
When asked about telehealth experiences, 39% felt their virtual visit was just as good (or better than) an in-person visit. Seven in ten reported a positive experience with telehealth, while 14% of respondents found the technology to be difficult to use.
For a comprehensive overview of survey waves one through three, download the white paper, COVID-19 and Chronic Health Conditions: Monitoring the lifecycle of patient attitudes and behaviors in a global pandemic.