Amidst a pandemic, consumers say they want accessible, affordable and technology-enabled health care, new CVS Health study finds

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Path to Better Health Study also reveals desire for digital health care solutions to support chronic care, mental health needs.

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — The American health care system is undergoing a period of rapid transformation. In recent months, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed new challenges and opportunities to accelerate advances in health care delivery, solve for systemic health inequities, dramatically improve care outcomes, and better meet consumer expectations for convenience and affordability.

With a global pandemic as the backdrop, CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) fielded the 2020 Path to Better Health Study, where consumers and providers were asked for their thoughts on the state of health care and how they are navigating this evolving landscape. While certain attitudes may have evolved as a result of COVID-19, the study reveals that consumers need more accessible, personalized and technology-driven health care than ever before and are seeking simplicity in the way they engage in their own health.

The use of technology and data analytics in health care is reaching new heights, and the pandemic is accelerating the adoption of digitally based solutions. Consumers are eagerly embracing tech, especially when it comes to communicating with their providers. Forty-eight percent said they would be more likely to communicate with health care professionals if they were able to do so through digital messaging (up from 41% in 2019), via telehealth (32%, up from 19% in 2019) and through virtual office visits such as Skype or FaceTime (29%, up from 20% in 2019). Additionally, 40% of consumers said they would be very likely to receive care for mental and behavioral health virtually.

"The pandemic has forced countless Americans to rethink their approach to health and explore different avenues of care," notes Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS Health. "Whether in the community, in the home or in the palm of their hand, people are discovering new ways to conveniently and affordably address their health care needs, including mental and behavioral health. We expect these changes will transform the way care is delivered moving forward."

The need to manage chronic conditions and mental health concerns is clearly top of mind for many consumers. A significant number of people indicated that members of their households are struggling with high blood pressure (41%), obesity (35%), mental illness (28%) and diabetes (17%).

Addressing mental health concerns is also of growing importance, especially among those aged 18 34 and 35 50, where social isolation is a top concern. For example, 44% of those aged 18 to 34 and 45% of those aged 35 to 50 indicated they no longer have a desire to be social, while only 29% of those aged 51 to 64 said the same. This resembles the 2019 findings, in which 48% of those 18 to 34 and 45% of those 35 to 50 reported they did not have a desire to be social, versus 35% of people aged 51 to 64.

The desire for accessibility is pushing people to explore new avenues of care. While a majority (62%) of consumers still go to their primary care physician (PCP) to treat a minor illness or injury, nearly one-third (31%) are likely to visit a non-emergency walk-in clinic. This is up from 2019, in which 59% of consumers reported going to their PCP for a minor illness or injury, while 28% said they would visit a non-emergency walk-in clinic. Digital solutions such as telemedicine are also growing in popularity with both patients and providers.

Most consumers (92%) said it is very or somewhat important that health care be convenient a factor that has only become more critical as a result of COVID-19.

About one-third (35%) of people said health care costs are an obstacle to staying healthy, and close to half (49%) have not visited a doctor when they had a minor illness or injury due to cost. Despite cost emerging as a top barrier to care, it is not often a topic of discussion between patients and health care providers. Two-thirds of patients (66%) said their PCP and other health care providers had not asked about the "affordability" of health care and/or discussed resources to assist with these costs, up slightly from 64% in the 2019 Path to Better Health Study.

Other highlights from the study include:

  • Health care providers are increasingly turning to digital tools and technologies to care for and connect with their patients. Telemedicine is of particular interest, with 40% of providers saying it is very valuable for communicating with patients, up from 22% in the 2019 study. The future outlook for incorporating predictive analytics or artificial intelligence into provider practices also looks strong, with more than one-third (39%) indicating they already have or are very or somewhat likely to integrate these technologies into their practices within the next several years.

  • Providers are expressing the need for additional support for important community resources, but access is improving. For example, many providers said they have fair or poor access to substance abuse counselors (56%) and mental health counselors (50%), down from 63% and 55% in our 2019 study, respectively.

  • Many providers are experiencing burnout symptoms. Three-fourths (75%) of all providers said they feel burned out very frequently, frequently or sometimes. About one-quarter (27%) said the main cause of burnout is time spent documenting care/electronic record systems, followed by administrative/management requirements/paperwork (25%).

Read the full study.

About the study

The Path to Better Health Study by CVS Health, first released in 2018 and called the Health Ambitions Study, was conducted in March 2020 and included two surveys fielded by Market Measurement, a national market research consulting firm. The consumer survey comprised 1,000 participants 18 and older, located throughout the U.S. It also oversampled 12 metropolitan statistical areas Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Providence, Hartford, San Francisco, Tampa and among two ethnic groups: African American and Hispanic people. The survey of 400 providers focused on primary care physicians and specialists with at least two years' experience, as well as nurse practitioners, physician assistants and pharmacists.

About CVS Health

CVS Health employees are united around a common goal of becoming the most consumer-centric health company. We're evolving based on changing consumer needs and meeting people where they are, whether that's in the community at one of our nearly 10,000 local touchpoints, in the home, or in the palm of their hand. Our newest offerings from HealthHUB locations that are redefining what a pharmacy can be, to innovative programs that help manage chronic conditions are designed to create a higher-quality, simpler and more affordable experience. Learn more about how we're transforming health at www.cvshealth.com.

Contacts

Kathleen Biesecker
bieseckerk@aetna.com
703-472-8466

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Path to Better Health Study 2020

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CVS Health’s 2020 Path to Better Health Study finds that consumers are seeking a more accessible, affordable and technology-enabled health care experience than ever before. 

The American health care system is undergoing a time of accelerated innovation and transformation. Consumer expectations for convenient and personalized health care support, coupled with the exploding use of technology and data analytics, are just several trends driving critical change. The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has also provided an opportunity to further advance health care delivery and utilization to better meet the needs of our patients, our customers and our communities.

According to our 2020 Path to Better Health Study, now in its third year, consumers and providers are hungry for this care transformation and want health solutions that meet them where they are — in store, in home and in hand.

cvs heart

40%

of consumers said they would be very likely to receive care for mental and behavioral health virtually.

71%

of consumers indicated they were greatly concerned with treating chronic illness due to cost. 

81%

of providers reported that they always, often or sometimes recommend that their patients establish health goals during routine office visits.

Importance of accessibility and affordability

Delivering accessible, high-quality care at any time is a key health care priority — and has become even more significant during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to our study, consumers agree, with 92% indicating that it was very or somewhat important that health care be convenient. 

We found that people’s desire for accessibility is pushing them to explore new avenues of care. While a majority of consumers still go to their primary care physician (PCP) to treat a minor illness or injury, nearly one-third of consumers are likely to visit a non-emergency walk-in clinic.

Consumers are receiving routine support for minor illnesses or injuries at several sites of care: 62% report visiting their primary care physician; 31% report using emergency walk-in clinics; 18% report visiting a hospital emergency room; and 15% report visiting community health clinics.

“Consumers are demanding convenience and ease in how they access health services. Technological solutions have the power to simplify health care and significantly expand the ways we deliver it,” said Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS Health, adding that COVID-19 has provided an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate transformation and drive lasting and systemic change in the American health care system. “Our growing local presence and expansion of virtual care, telemedicine, and other omnichannel programs will be critical to meeting the health needs of our members and customers, both during and after the pandemic.” 

Affordability is also top-of-mind for consumers. About one-third (35%) of people said health care costs are an obstacle to staying healthy, while close to half (49%) have not visited a doctor when they had a minor illness or injury due to cost, suggesting that consumers could use additional support in this area.


Increasing appetite for technology-enabled care

The use of technology across the health care continuum has been rising at a rapid rate. As a result of COVID-19, the pace of technological transformation will only quicken and greatly influence the future of care delivery. 

Our study shows that people want to use technology to enhance communication with their health care providers, by adopting tools like digital messaging, telemedicine and virtual office visits. Among providers, their use of digital technologies to care for and connect with patients is also expanding. Telehealth is of particular interest, with 40% of providers saying it is very valuable for communicating with patients, up from 22% in our 2019 study.

The use of digital tools to facilitate communication between patients and providers is on the rise. Digital messaging among consumers is up 7% from 2019 with an overall usage of 48%. Among providers, digital messaging is down 2% from 2019 but overall usage is at 36%. Telehealth services, have shown a 14% increases among consumers, with a 32% overall usage rate. Among providers, usage of telehealth services increased 18% with a 40% usage overall.

Our Path to Better Health Study also found that:

  • Mental health is of critical concern for consumers, especially among those aged 18 to 34 and 35 to 50, with the issue of social isolation being a top concern.
  • Consumers, as well as their friends, family and other household members, are struggling with chronic conditions, including high blood pressure, obesity, mental illness and diabetes. 
  • Health care providers still need more support in accessing important community-based resources, such as nutritionists and social workers, but this access is improving. 
  • Many providers are experiencing burnout symptoms at least some of the time. 
  • Awareness of and involvement in value-based care models is growing.
A woman sits at a dining room table eating a salad and a piece of bread while quietly smiling and reading a tablet computer.

Methodology 

The Path to Better Health Study by CVS Health, first released in 2018 and called the Health Ambitions Study, was conducted in March 2020 and included two surveys fielded by Market Measurement, a national market research consulting firm. The consumer survey comprised 1,000 participants 18 and older, located throughout the U.S. It also oversampled 12 metropolitan statistical areas — Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Providence, Hartford, San Francisco, Tampa and among two ethnic groups: African Americans and Hispanics. The survey of 400 providers focused on primary care physicians and specialists with at least two years’ experience, as well as nurse practitioners, physician assistants and pharmacists.

A woman in gray athletic clothes stretches and practices yoga poses in a very light and bright room. The photo is set inside of a CVS Health® heart on a red background.
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Millennials have the world at their fingertips but it's harming their health, CVS Health study finds

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Path to Better Health Study reveals opportunity to balance digital health with social connection

WOONSOCKET, R.I., July 29, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Millennials may be the first digital natives, but that love of technology could also be harming their health, according to the Path to Better Health Study by CVS Health (NYSE: CVS). The study, now in its second year, explores consumer health goals and asks providers what they need to help patients reach those goals.

Millennials a generation that came of age during the rise of technology and that has led a more transient, flexible lifestyle have more difficulty meeting new people or making social connections compared to other generations, notably consumers 65 and older, according to the study, which was published today. More than half (53 percent) of consumers aged 18–34 say they don’t know where to meet new people, compared to just 27 percent of people 65 and older and 35 percent of those aged 51–64. Nearly half (48 percent) of millennials also say they no longer have a desire to be social, compared to just 20 percent of consumers 65 and older and 35 percent of those aged 51–64, suggesting that older consumers may have different social needs.

That social isolation may be leading to increased problems with mental illness and abuse of alcohol. Forty-two percent say they struggle or know someone else struggling with mental illness (the highest of all age groups), and 35 percent cite having had problems or knowing someone who has had problems with alcohol use in the last five years (compared to 26 percent overall).

Consumers of all ages rate themselves as either good or excellent across most of the six well-being dimensions: character strengths (72 percent), sense of purpose and social connectedness (63 percent each), emotional health (62 percent), physical health (58 percent) and financial security (47 percent).

“Millennials who helped pioneer the use of the Internet and social media have a significant influence on health care transformation. Their need for greater support in making and maintaining social connections, and in achieving their mental health goals, indicates that we need a system focused not just on physical health but on total health,” said Karen S. Lynch, Executive Vice President, CVS Health, and President of Aetna. “Our physical health is directly impacted by other important aspects of our lives including our mental health, social connections and financial health. The good news is that people are getting proactive about addressing these holistic concerns. Now, our health system must adapt to how consumers are approaching health care and be more inclusive and supportive of people’s total health.”

Integrating digital health tools to support personal connection

Transforming the health system in a way that balances digital health support with personal connection will be key to providing millennials and future generations the support they need in the ways most convenient to them.

Millennials, predictably, show a greater reliance on digital technologies, including health tools. Sixty-four percent of consumers aged 18–34 feel that being able to monitor their health is very or somewhat important, compared to 52 percent of those aged 65 and up. Their use of digital health tools varies as well, according to their respective health priorities. Electronic diaries or apps (28 percent), wearable trackers (27 percent) and calorie counters (26 percent) are the top three tools millennials use to track their personal health. Consumers 65 and older, meanwhile, use blood pressure monitors with tracking capabilities (24 percent), wearable trackers (15 percent) and blood or glucose monitors (13 percent) the most to track their personal health.

Although nearly half of millennials (46 percent) still value in-person walk-in office hours to communicate with their providers, their reliance on primary care physicians is the lowest of any consumer group. Just 45 percent say they receive routine care for minor illness or injury from a primary care physician, compared to 59 percent of those aged 35-50 and 76 percent of those 65 and older. Another 32 percent, meanwhile, receive such care at non-emergency walk-in clinics, and 14 percent at their local pharmacies the highest among all generations for both care settings.

“The existing system of episodic health care is falling short, but we are working to reinvent health care to better connect with all consumers, including millennials, and improve their overall well-being,” said Alan Lotvin, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer, CVS Health. “Through multiple initiatives, including our goal to dramatically expand HealthHUB services and locations, we are providing digital and physical connections that feel like essentially every other interaction in our life seamless, simple and easily available. By engaging consumers through local connections and providing personalized, daily support, we can radically change the way consumers engage in their health. That’s where we are going as a company and where we need to go as a nation.”

Other highlights from the study include:

  • Chronic health conditions are driving consumer health goals. The health goals consumers have today are centered around the top four chronic conditions they or someone in their household are facing: These include obesity and other weight concerns (42 percent), high blood pressure (40 percent), mental illness (32 percent) and diabetes (20 percent).
     
  • Women are more likely to report concerns with weight and living with mental illness. Nearly half of women (47 percent) say they struggle or have someone in their household struggling with obesity or other weight concerns, compared to just 31 percent of men. Women (36 percent) are also more likely to report suffering from or having someone in their household suffering from mental illness, compared to just 23 percent of men who report the same.
     
  • Supporting providers in enhancing digital capabilities could be key to unlocking better care outcomes. Providers need greater support in balancing digital adoption with caring for patients, but those who do receive such support and adopt digital tools are likely to record better patient outcomes. For example, 58 percent of providers who use patient portals recommend that their patients set health goals, compared to just 14 percent of providers who don’t use such portals. Using digital tools also helps providers spend more time with patients: Sixty-two percent who use mobile apps to communicate with patients are somewhat or very satisfied with time spent with patients, compared to 38 percent of providers who don't use mobile apps.
     
  • Value-based care is taking hold, and it lends itself to greater satisfaction among providers. More than half (62 percent) of providers say their practice is highly involved or becoming involved in the use of value-based care. Among those who have heard of such models, 57 percent are very satisfied with time spent with patients, versus just 43 percent of providers who haven’t heard of them. When it comes to supporting value-based care, meanwhile, pharmacists are the biggest proponents, with 93 percent saying it will positively impact patient health.

Read the full study here.

About the study

The Path to Better Health Study by CVS Health, first released in 2018 and called the Health Ambitions Study, was conducted in April and May 2019 and included two surveys fielded by Market Measurement, a national market research consulting firm. The consumer survey comprised 1,000 participants 18 and older, located throughout the U.S. It also oversampled six metropolitan statistical areas Atlanta, Austin, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle and South Florida, and among two ethnic groups: African Americans and Hispanics. The survey of 400 providers focused on primary care physicians and specialists with at least two years’ experience. In 2019, the study was expanded to include nurse practitioners, physician assistants and pharmacists.

About CVS Health

CVS Health is the nation’s premier health innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Whether in one of its pharmacies or through its health services and plans, CVS Health is pioneering a bold new approach to total health by making quality care more affordable, accessible, simple and seamless. CVS Health is community-based and locally focused, engaging consumers with the care they need when and where they need it. The Company has more than 9,900 retail locations, approximately 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with approximately 94 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, expanding specialty pharmacy services, and a leading stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. CVS Health also serves an estimated 38 million people through traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including rapidly expanding Medicare Advantage offerings. This innovative health care model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at https://www.cvshealth.com.

Contacts

T.J. Crawford
crawfordt2@aetna.com
212-457-0583

Kathleen Biesecker
bieseckerk@aetna.com
703-472-8466

SOURCE CVS Health

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