Telehealth, virtual, and ‘omnichannel’ health winners in CVS’ ‘Path To Better Health’ study

CVS Health’s third annual ‘Path to Better Health’ study contains both cheerful (for health tech) and distressing news (for practices). While we do have to consider the source–CVS Health definitely has an entire kennel of dogs in the fractionalization of health delivery race, HealthHUB as only one–the key findings illustrate a greater acceptance of telehealth and remote visits by the surveyed consumers. Providers seem to be shifting in the same direction, albeit not that dramatically.

Percentage results are 2020 versus the (2019 study).

Consumers are much more accepting of virtual communication:

  • Telehealth interest: 32 percent (14 percent)
  • Virtual office visit interest: 29 percent (20 percent)
  • Messaging interest: 48 percent (41 percent)
  • More women (35 percent) than men (27 percent) are interested 
  • 40 percent are interested in virtual behavioral health; 38 percent in virtual advice from a pharmacist

Providers are moving more slowly in connecting virtually with patients, though telehealth had the greatest boost:

  • Telehealth: 40 percent (22 percent)
  • Virtual office visits: 24 percent (23 percent)
  • Digital messaging through email, text and patient portals: 36 percent said they are very valuable for successful interactions with their patients

While the study does not speculate on the lagging acceptance numbers for providers except for telehealth, virtual visits (by telehealth!) and digital messaging add to workload and do not necessarily at this time have clear workflows.

Predictive analytics

  • 39 percent of providers claim that they already have or are likely/somewhat likely to incorporate predictive analytics into their practices within several years
  • 31 percent of providers are somewhat likely to incorporate predictive analytics or artificial intelligence
  • Acceptance is greater among providers with very large (450+ patient) practices (48 percent)
  • Younger providers with under 15 years of experience are also more likely to incorporate predictive analytics in their practices (50 percent), versus those over 15 years of experience (35 percent)

Mental health issues. Perhaps it was the timing of the study (March), but the need for mental health support, evidenced by social connection among those 18 to 34 and 35 to 50, was drastically on the rise–unhappiness among social connections (29-30 percent), no desire to be social (44-45 percent), not knowing where to meet new people (44-51 percent).

There is also a great deal of information on concerns around affordability of medical and drug costs, convenience, the cost of chronic disease management, mental and cognitive health, and community-based resources. In reading through the executive summary, it is easy to see how delivery of care has shifted from the primary care office and hospital to urgent care clinics, but interoperability (information sharing) is a major concern. 75 percent of physicians have a high to moderate concern of a looming physician shortage.

Methodology. The US survey was taken in March. The consumer sample was 1,000 18+. CVS oversampled 12 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs): Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Providence, Hartford, San Francisco, Tampa plus two ethnic groups: African American and Hispanic. 400 providers were surveyed, primarily primary care physicians and specialists with at least two years’ experience, as well as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and pharmacists.

Infographic, Executive Summary, press release. Also Fierce Healthcare. (An annoying part of the summaries is that they state changes in percentage points as percentages.)

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