According to the Cigna COVID-19 Global Impact Study: New Directions [PDF] part of Cigna’s annual 360 Well-Being Survey, availability and access to virtual health has become increasingly important. Of those surveyed in eight international markets, 54% of respondents said they were now likely to use virtual health as an option for consultation or diagnosis.
“This shift in attitude opens the door for virtual care more broadly – both from innovation to adoption,” according to Global Health Benefits (CGHB) Americas CEO, Ann Asbaty. Globally, 17% of study respondents started using virtual health during the pandemic.
Survey findings show that virtual health is most commonly used for generic health support (for example, colds, flu, and rashes), with 48% of respondents saying they would be interested in using it for virtual appointments in the future. The second most popular use was for prescriptions delivery at 40%, followed by 39% for mental health support.
“Our global telehealth product, available through The Cigna Wellbeing App, has provided an affordable, convenient, flexible and safe alternative to in-office care to many of our customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, we’ve seen a 162% increase in telehealth utilization from Q1 2020 to Q2 2020,” says Asbaty. “With access to more than 110 board-certified doctors in locations around the world, we’re proud to be providing growing numbers of Cigna customers with peace of mind during this challenging time.”
Despite increased interest in services such as telehealth and rising adoption rates, availability remains an issue, with 35% of respondents saying they did not have access to virtual health services such as Cigna’s Global Telehealth offering. Access varies greatly around the world: 63% of respondents in Hong Kong saying they do not have access to virtual services, with in the United States only 23% said the same.
The Global Impact Study, published by Cigna’s International Markets business, is the second in a series of studies to better understand global perceptions and changes in attitudes about health and well-being during the pandemic. To date, Cigna has engaged more than 16,000 people across China, Hong Kong, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States between January and June 2020.