Before the COVID-19 crisis, seeking consultation meant travelling to the hospital and discussing the issue in-person. It was the general belief that one needs to meet in-person for a better diagnosis. But as the pandemic put health concerns into overdrive, the stakes continue to rise.
The sector was swift in leveraging technology to provide on-demand consultation to consumers. Though lockdown forced a disconnect between people and hospitals in terms of in-person attendance, telehealth has become the silver lining and solution for this problem, now and possibly beyond the pandemic.
Consumers are beginning to trust telehealth as a veritable option. In the first quarter of 2020, the number of telehealth visits increased by 50% as compared to the first quarter of 2019. A significant surge of 154% was also noted in the last week of March 2020 as compared to the same timeline in 2019. Moreover, the sector witnessed an overall increase of 33% for telehealth visits in 2020 compared to the previous year. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, nearly 75% of U.S. consumers said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the treatment they received during a virtual healthcare visit, with only 8% of U.S. consumers saying they were unsatisfied.
Consumers have been interested in learning about telehealth from the start. In fact, there was an exponential surge for telehealth-related terms in the initial months of COVID-19. Though these searches have reduced significantly since then, this is more likely because consumers are bridging the learning gap and as such, have become familiar with how telehealth works by now. Brands in the healthcare sector should consider placing telehealth at the center of their marketing strategy as the pandemic carries on.
Additionally, among the hospitals and healthcare systems tracked in Gartner’s Digital IQ Index: Hospitals and Health Systems, only 65% of the brands promoted virtual care on their homepage. Moreover, in the first half of 2020, 47% of the brands promoted telehealth via display ads, whereas 12% resumed ‘in-person visit’ in communication towards the end of 2020, in anticipation of the shift. To learn more about the rise of telehealth, watch Gartner’s webinar on the trending topic.