How Engagement With Health Care Consumers Is Changing

The health care industry has experienced major changes over the past couple of years. The pandemic led many consumers to rely on virtual care. Health care consumer engagement has changed in three big ways: more virtual, more retail, more digital.


All this led to a new trend: a growing number of “Virtual Primary Care First” health plans. “Virtual first health plans are defined as health plans where the first entry point to getting medical care is with a virtual provider, typically primary care, often much more with a longitudinal relationship versus an on-demand provider,” Jennifer Rost, partner at McKinsey, explained.


Virtual first health plans bring together different tools like apps, telehealth, and virtual care.


By providing patients with more control, access to services, and more convenience, better patient outcomes and reduced costs can be expected.


Consumers are expecting their interactions with the health care system to be more responsive, more convenient, and more electronic. Telehealth, in home care delivery, and digital consumer engagement are becoming the new normal.


The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved 80 new types of telehealth services in 2020, according to a McKinsey & Company report.




In addition, the use of retail health pharmacies, grocery stores, and urgent care centers during the pandemic shows patients a new approach to health care convenience.


Many retail health providers are making major investments in expanding their offerings. As CVS Pharmacy announced for 2022, “CVS Pharmacy, the retail division of CVS Health, is America’s leading retail pharmacy with nearly 10,000 locations, including over 1,700 pharmacies inside Target and Schnucks grocery stores. We are committed to delivering innovative health solutions that create a simpler, more accessible experience for patients, customers, and caregivers. CVS Pharmacy is the only national pharmacy to remove tobacco products from its shelves and has taken a leadership role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by making testing and vaccinations available at locations across the United States.”




Walmart has also deepened and expanded its ambitions in health care with plans to start offering health care lab testing services over its website through an expanded partnership with Quest Diagnostics. Customers can make appointments at Quests service locations as well as select Walmart stores.




Digital and virtual health care is exciting and leading the way in innovation. “As healthcare continues to present new opportunities, advancements made today are essential for tomorrow’s medicine. With one of the most innovative years in history now behind us, 2022 is likely to continue this momentum. To remain competitive in this changing environment, companies must remain innovative and continue to expand their digital product lines.”


Finding consumer-oriented solutions that are hybrid models, including both face-to-face and telehealth, might be the key.





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