Almost 7 in 10 Have Postponed or Canceled Medical Appointments Amid Coronavirus

40% turn to telehealth; overwhelming majority of them say they’re likely to go that route again
A telehealth appointment

Fears of exposure to the coronavirus continue to deter consumers from visiting health care facilities, creating opportunities for telehealth services to flourish.

To get a better understanding of consumers’ perceptions about health screenings amid the COVID-19 crisis, DocASAP, a Herndon, Va.-based company that offers a platform for health care companies and patients, surveyed adults who had used a health care provider in the past 12 months.

Questioning the safety of health care facilities

More than two-thirds of respondents (68%) said they’ve postponed or canceled an in-person health care appointment since the coronavirus pandemic began. Men were more likely to put off a health care visit than women, 73% to 64%.

For many, time doesn’t seem to be allaying their fears. In fact, 43% said they won’t feel safe seeing a health care provider in person until at least the fall.

Throughout the pandemic, consumers have expressed concerns about visiting brick-and-mortar businesses. When asked what types of businesses they felt safest visiting, DocASAP respondents said:

  • Grocery stores: 42%
  • Pharmacies: 37%
  • Hospitals: 32%
  • Doctor’s offices: 26%
  • Work offices: 20%
  • Public transportation: 13%
  • Emergency rooms or urgent care facilities: 12%

Some consumers may have other reasons for putting off health care, as the COVID-19 crisis has also put a spotlight on the confusion consumers have about health insurance and costs, specifically as it relates to the coronavirus.

Telehealth perceived to be a safer alternative

As consumers recognize that they can’t put off health care services forever, many are turning to telehealth, which allows them to meet virtually with a health care practitioner.

In fact, 40% of respondents said they’ve already had a telehealth appointment. Of those who have completed their telehealth appointment, 91% said they’re likely to schedule another one in the future rather than an in-person visit.

When asked what factors would most influence their decision to seek a telehealth visit, the top reason given was COVID-19-related safety concerns, cited by 47% of respondents. That was followed by:

  • 43% who said whether the visit was covered by health insurance
  • 40% who said whether it was easy to access quality care

Consumers also appear to be getting comfortable with the idea of getting some of their pre-appointment needs met virtually, as 42% all respondents said they’d prefer to check their symptoms online whether they had an in-person or telehealth appointment.

Other tasks consumers would prefer to handle online, even if they had an in-person visit, include:

  • Completing intake forms: 32%
  • Finding out the cost of the visit: 32%
  • Providing insurance information: 29%

Methodology: DocASAP commissioned global market research firm OnePoll to survey 1,000 adults who have used a health care provider in the past year between June 29 and June 30, 2020.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.