Consumers as patients are increasingly going omnichannel when it comes to getting healthcare, say a pair of new reports.
Most patients still go primarily to the doctor’s office or the hospital for treatment. But as a more convenient and cheaper alternative, more consumers are seeking treatment at retail walk-in clinics, says a new report from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association in Chicago. Consumers as patients also want more access to digital doctor visits or telehealth, says a new survey from telehealth services provider American Well.
The American Well survey of 2,100 consumers finds that 65% are interested in seeing their primary care physician over video. This especially resonates with parents with children under 18, as 74% of patients with children say they are interested in seeing their doctor via a telehealth visit. 20% of consumers all are willing to switch doctors to a provider that does offer telemedicine visits.
“Consumers are clearly interested in more convenient access to healthcare and increasingly they are even willing to switch providers to get internet video service,” says American Well chief marketing officer Mary Modahl. “Not only that, but consumers are willing to try telehealth for many needs—from chronic conditions to post-discharge follow up.”
Other survey findings include:
- 60% of consumers who are willing to have an online telehealth visit would see a doctor online for help managing a chronic condition.
- 67% of adults ages 45-64 who are willing to have an online telehealth visit would see a doctor online for help managing a chronic condition.
- 79% of consumers currently caring for an ill or aging relative say a multi-way video telehealth service would be helpful.
“Consumers are willing to try telehealth for many needs from chronic conditions to post-discharge follow up,” Modahl says.
To save time and money and in addition to using more telehealth technology, consumers also are going more frequently to walk-in clinics located in stores and elsewhere, says the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Visits to retail health clinics—a low-cost option for consumers seeking convenient care for simple, acute conditions—among commercially insured Blue Cross members increased from 12.2 visits per 1,000 members in 2011 to 24 visits per 1,000 members in 2015.
There are more than 2,000 retail clinics located in pharmacies, grocers and chain stores that provide care for simple, acute conditions—such as bronchitis and flu—and also administer services such as vaccinations or certain tests. Typically staffed by nurse practitioners, they offer convenient evening and weekend hours as well as walk-in appointments. Prices for retail clinic visits are significantly lower than a visit to the ER and slightly less expensive than a doctor’s office visit, Blue Cross says. In 2015, the out-of-pocket cost of visiting a retail clinic for a minor condition was $35 compared to a physician visit costing $37 and a trip to the emergency room cost $377.
More women and men are likely to visit a retail clinic, says Blue Cross which based its findings on an analysis of more than 60 million claims from 2011 through 2015 and a comparison of the costs of receiving care for conditions at retail clinics relative to physician office and visits to the emergency room. In 2015, the rate per 1,000 members at which women visit retail clinics was 72% higher than the rate for men, Blue Cross says.
Cheaper healthcare costs and greater convenience are driving more consumers to alternative ways to seek treatment, says Blue Cross chief strategy and innovation officer Maureen Sullivan. “Although they comprise only a small portion of all outpatient services, retail clinics are becoming increasingly popular options for those seeking affordable care,” Sullivan says.