Individuals who avail of mental health services are becoming more comfortable with the process of using virtual care, rather than in person appointments. Ipsos and Evernorth allied to carry out research in this field, questioning over 3,000 individual patients in the final quarter of last year on their experience and preferences. Additionally, nearly 600 human resources leaders and 58 health plan leaders were asked to respond to questions. This survey follows a significant increase in virtual healthcare being provided because of imposed restrictions during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. From 2020 to 2021, a six percent increase in respondents who used virtual healthcare was seen.
It was uncovered that all age groups interviewed were relatively comfortable with virtual healthcare services. In the ‘baby boomers’ category, seven percent stated they preferred virtual appointments, while forty five percent were indifferent to virtual and in person services. This was doubled for Generation X, with fifteen percent preferring virtual appointments, and fifty five percent being equally comfortable with therapy provided through in person and virtual appointments. The highest amount of preference for virtual therapy was Generation Z and Millennials, with 23% and 28% stating they would opt for virtual mental healthcare, and both groups comprising of approximately 55% who were equally comfortable with either mode of healthcare provision. Respondents gave some of the following reasons to explain their desire to use virtual healthcare services for their mental health:
- The ability to to remain at home during their appointment
- The ease of organizing virtual appointments from various locations rather than a designated facility.
- and feeling like they can be more open and honest than in an in-person setting (15 percent).
Respondents were also asked to provide their preferred forms of virtual care. It was evident that video call was favored, with over half stating video as their top mode of delivery. Following this was phone calls, mobile applications, and text messages which received twenty-two, fourteen, and nine percent respectively. HR leaders are picking up on this increase demand, and currently digital CBT makes up 35% of services provided. As well as this, 33% intend to implement it and 15% see it as a top priority to adopt in the imminent future.