Naturally, healthcare has become a primary global focus as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Patients and medical professionals alike have adapted their behaviour around healthcare consultation practices – and these changes are predicted to have ongoing effects. Borderless Access used its extensive digital panel to conduct online research in ten countries, to explore current and anticipated modes of medical consultation.
In-person consultations see a dramatic drop
It comes as no surprise that there has been a dramatic drop in the frequency of doctor consultations worldwide, with nearly 70% of people having completely stopped visiting the doctor or massively reduced their medical consultations since the outbreak. This trend is apparent across all countries, but particularly strongly driven in the Middle East region, through both Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Patients and doctors have adapted quickly, finding new consultation alternatives. Over a third of people have reduced in-person consultation and started to consult medical professionals online, and nearly a quarter have used telephonic consultations for the first time. Households with children are more ready to embrace online consultations than those without children in them.
Phone and video consultations gain traction
In terms of online methods of consultation utilised, smartphones are more common than computers. In-app chats are preferred, with social media and video also being commonly used. Non-millennials especially drive the in-app preference, while millennials are happy with all forms of online media.
Globally, three-quarters of people appreciate doctors offering video consultation options. This is strongly driven by both surveyed Middle Eastern markets. Although this sentiment is more strongly felt by millennials, it is also important for non-millennials.
In Saudi, people are most satisfied with in-app chats, followed by social media and video consultations. In the UAE however, the highest satisfaction rests with video consultations.
Prime opportunities for digital medical consultations
Going forward, two-thirds of people will use only online or a combination of online and in-person consultation. Millennials are driving this particular trend strongly but all age groups show enthusiasm for digital consultation options. In total, only 17% of people are still adamant that they will solely use in-person consultation.
Developing markets drive the requirement for digital consultations
Interestingly, the willingness to embrace digital consultations is more strongly driven by developing than developed markets. The UAE and Saudi Arabia both show a strong likelihood to utilise digital methods in future. Those who stopped in-person consultations for safety reasons are more likely to continue with digital methods, having discovered that they adequately fulfil their need.
Four-fifths of people globally will use online consultations going forwards
A striking 80% of people believe they are very likely or likely to use online consultation modes in future, compared to the 43% of people who are using them now.
We are already witnessing a pivot towards online modes in so many areas of life, as people settle into the work-from-home regime, and embrace digitization across sectors.
The health care profession is thus presented with a prime opportunity to meet the needs of patients - especially in developing countries - by providing adequate and comprehensive digital consultation options, drawing on learnings gained during the respective lockdown periods, and extending these as the world adjusts to its new normal.
Borderless Access can help you to conduct digital online surveys across a wide range of sectors including health care. Please contact us to discuss how you can access your health care trackers or ad hoc data collection using our deeply profiled digital panels across the globe.
To read our global report, please request it here.