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Article18 Oct 2021

U.S. Healthcare: A Reengagement Story

Has the pandemic changed how we view healthcare systems and our interaction with them? Are people more reluctant to go to hospitals? Will they forgo certain surgeries now? Citi Research surveyed 5,000 adults in the U.S. to glean more specifics about current sentiment. The survey’s findings are in a new report by Citi’s Ralph Giacobbe. The top lines are summarized here.

How have attitudes to healthcare changed in a post-pandemic world?

Citi conducted a survey of 5,000 U.S. adults, chosen to be representative of the national population in terms of age, gender, region, and income. The survey took place online between September 14 and 22 this year. The margin of error for the whole sample responses is +/-1.6 at a 95% confidence level. The focus was on consumer sentiment across various healthcare categories to gauge individuals’ comfort to reengage with the healthcare system.

Here are some of the high-level takeaways:   

  1. Consumer sentiment on utilizing healthcare and general comfort on return to life pre-Covid is improving – 67% of respondents said they had not changed healthcare utilization patterns from pre-pandemic levels, while 18% suggested they are using less healthcare and 12% utilizing more. In terms of general comfort on return to pre-Covid life, individuals that are uncomfortable dropped to 22% from 33% in Citi’s previous survey.
  2. Much of the backlog has already been captured. But some pent-up demand remains with uncertainty on rescheduling – About 76% of respondents have not canceled a procedure since the start of the pandemic. Of the 24% that have canceled, a large majority (~70%) or 16% of total respondents have since had a procedure performed. This leaves 8% of total respondents noting that a canceled procedure has not yet been performed and among that 8%, 13% are not planning to reschedule, and 23% are unsure.
  3. Sustained interest in digital modalities and still elevated telehealth – While telehealth utilization will certainly drop post-pandemic, decreases will be far from linear (driven largely by the proliferation of Covid variants and vaccine efficacy), and normalizing at levels significantly higher than pre-pandemic. In the Citi survey, telehealth utilization has increased from 48% at the height of the pandemic to 62% this year (vs 10% pre-pandemic). Importantly, 81% of telehealth users said they will continue to use telehealth post-pandemic. That’s up from 75% last year.  A majority of responders noted that it is very important/important that their physician offers virtual visits.

 

  1. Still some trepidation in going to a hospital, but consumers are gaining more comfort – 75% of survey respondents suggested some level of comfort in seeking non-emergency care in a hospital vs 65% in the previous survey. Additionally, ~35% of respondents are either somewhat or extremely likely to consider other non-hospital facilities for procedures, suggesting continued comfort in alternative sites of care.

The full impact of Covid on long-term attitudes towards healthcare will be felt for years to come and it is clear that the sector as a whole will need to be responsive to any lasting changes in behaviour. For more information on this subject, please see the full report, first published on October 1: US Healthcare - Taking the Pulse of the Healthcare Consumer

Citi Global Insights (CGI) is Citi’s premier non-independent thought leadership curation. It is not investment research; however, it may contain thematic content previously expressed in an Independent Research report. For the full CGI disclosure, click here.

 

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