How Consumers Have Shaped the Future of Virtual Healthcare and At-Home Diagnostics

This article was written by our colleague Claudia Penido, Senior Associate, Media Relations Healthcare


Telehealth and at-home testing have become part of our day-to-day lives and consumers want it to stay that way. Since the pandemic, telehealth visits have stabilized at levels 38 times higher than before, according to a research report by McKinsey. During the pandemic, various at-home testing companies also saw a rise in sales, including Everlywell, who experienced over 100% growth in 2021 compared to 2020. Even the Biden administration shipped approximately 500 million at-home COVID-19 tests to residents earlier this year, as at-home testing more than tripled during the omicron surge, according to the CDC. This trend doesn’t seem to be going away, as we have all gotten used to the virtual healthcare space and continue to benefit from it.

BENEFITS OF TELEHEALTH AND AT-HOME DIAGNOSTICS

Besides convenience, both telehealth and at-home testing offer various benefits. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 or other infectious diseases, these services can lessen exposure and transmission of the virus, protecting those who are immunocompromised. At-home healthcare options can also offer financial relief, as patients don’t have to commute to an appointment or need insurance to obtain at-home tests. Telehealth can even eliminate racial gaps. According to a study published in Nature Public Health Emergency Collection, visitation completion rates increased from 52% to 70% among Black patients, due to access to telehealth services. Consumers have also expressed preference in testing for more sensitive matters, such as STIs, in the privacy of their own homes. In a study conducted in San Diego, 62% of survey participants selected their home as their preferred location for a rapid HIV test.

VIRTUAL HEALTHCARE IN PRACTICE

As at-home COVID-19 testing continues to grow, companies want to make it even easier for consumers to test themselves for COVID and other health ailments. ResApp, an Australian smartphone app, allows users to cough into their phones to analyze the sound of their coughs and determine whether an individual has COVID-19. So far, the company has received approval in Australia and Europe for the app to detect pneumonia and other respiratory conditions and is hoping to get approval for COVID-19 next. In addition, Amazon recently acquired primary care service One Medical, now valued at approximately $3.9 billion, to provide its customers with 24/7 access to virtual care. The acquisition will create an opportunity to make healthcare more accessible and affordable, meeting the needs of consumers who continue to use virtual care.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

I, too, have experienced the benefits of virtual care and at-home diagnostics. Two years ago I was diagnosed with tachycardia. Rapid and irregular heartbeat runs on my mother’s side of the family, so I began to see a cardiologist regularly to monitor my symptoms. With stay-at-home orders still in effect, I opted for virtual calls with my doctor while navigating this new diagnosis. Once restrictions eased, I transitioned to in-person visits and was put on a heart monitor to manage my episodes. After a series of in-person visits, my mother suggested an app to monitor my heart rate, which measured my EKG in a matter of seconds. While attending regular doctor appointments are still important, having a fast and efficient way of diagnosing my symptoms has saved me a lot of time, stress and money.

As the pandemic, hopefully, starts to become less and less a part of our daily lives, it is important for businesses to carry over virtual access to healthcare, beyond just COVID-19. There are various disease areas where virtual care and at-home diagnostics can play a huge role in helping consumers prioritize their health. From my own personal experience and from the plethora of companies who have shifted their business models after COVID-19, it is clear to see that consumer insight has played a major role in creating a technologically-advanced health care space that is reinventing healthcare as we know it.

TELL US: How can we use consumer insights to successfully expand the virtual healthcare space?