South Africans embrace digital medical consultations

Posted by Borderless Access on Jul 7, 2020 12:16:54 PM
Borderless Access

South Africans embrace digital medical consultations

The global COVID-19 pandemic has pivoted the world in countless new directions, a significant one being the exponential embrace of digital engagement. The field of health care is, of course, one that has been at the forefront of many pandemic-related changes. Medical professionals have had to adapt their entire way of working – and the public has responded. Borderless Access brings you findings from ten countries on how modes of medical consultation have and will continue to change, post lockdown.

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. South Africans have been fairly cautious about in-person consultations with only 28% continuing to visit their doctors, irrespective of the risk. 40% of Nigerians reduced the frequency of in-person medical visits.


Patients and doctors have adapted quickly, finding new consultation alternatives. Over a third of people have reduced in-person consultations and have 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 the online methods of consultation utilised, phones 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.

Mode Of Online Consultation

Globally, three-quarters of people appreciate doctors offering video consultation options. Although this sentiment is more strongly felt by millennials, it is also important for non-millennials.

Nigerians are especially satisfied with video consultations whereas South Africans rated their satisfaction with online modes lower than did most other countries.

Prime opportunities for digital medical consultations

Going forwards, two-thirds of people will use only online, or a combination of an online and in-person consultation. Millennials are driving this trend particularly 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. Nigerians indicate a much stronger likelihood to utilise digital methods in future than do South Africans. Globally, 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.

Future Usage Of Online Vs In-Person Consultation

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 healthcare 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.

Future usage of online consultation

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 profiled health care panels across the globe.

To read our global report, please request it here

Topics: healthcare market research, healthcare MR, Africa market research, south africa market research, healthcare consultation south africa, digital healthcare consultation south africa, digital healthcare consultation

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