The shift to telehealth during the coronavirus pandemic has made health care more accessible for many Americans — and particularly for women with lower income, according to new findings from Twentyeight Health.
The telehealth company also revealed that 97% of its users who are currently receiving birth control via telehealth services will continue to do so after the health crisis ends. This represents a huge jump from pre-pandemic levels, as 47% of respondents said they got birth control at a doctor's office prior to March 2020.
Other ways the COVID-19 pandemic has affected health care for women
According to a recent survey from Lively, 60% of Americans see their doctor every year for preventative care — and 15% now do so through telehealth appointments.
When it comes to women's reproductive health, telemedicine also makes it easier for women in lower income households in particular to get the care they need. Compared to 35% of all respondents, more than 40% of Twentyeight Health's patients with an annual income of less than $25,000 said they didn't take birth control before they used the telehealth provider.
Some women, on the other hand, may not need birth control in the near future. While 12% of survey respondents said they’d put their pregnancy plans on pause due to the pandemic, another 9% of respondents plan to have a baby once the pandemic is over.
What American women want in a telehealth provider
In addition to good customer service, over 80% of all respondents ranked the following priorities as important when choosing Twentyeight Health for their telehealth services:
- Birth control brands available
- Out-of-pocket price
- Secure direct messaging with doctors
- Acceptance of insurance or Medicaid
- Good customer service
However, more than 85% of those making less than $25,000 prioritized privacy and discretion over out-of-pocket price.
The Twentyeight Health survey also found that 35% of all respondents and more than 45% of respondents earning less than $25,000 annually are either not planning to or are unsure about getting an in-person physical in 2021. After all, the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on, despite the country's vaccination efforts.
Plus, a different survey from MDVIP found that nearly a third of women feel their primary care provider didn't take their concerns seriously, rushed their appointment or misdiagnosed their health conditions. Additionally, it can take considerable effort to find availability with a care provider, book the appointment and then make the necessary work or child care arrangements to attend.
Perhaps it should then come as little surprise that over 85% of respondents would prefer to interact with their doctors online on their own schedules. Specifically, many respondents would prefer the following options to get a new prescription:
- Message their doctor directly (87%)
- Have their online medical questionnaire reviewed by their doctor (85%)
But while Twentyeight Health indicates that most respondents prefer this kind of asynchronous, text-based communication with their doctor, more than 40% of households with annual incomes of less than $25,000 are interested in video consultations as well.
Methodology: Twentyeight Health surveyed 1,462 of its female customers, representing a small but statistically significant subset of its users, in May 2021.