Telehealth and Continuity of Care in a Pandemic
March 2021 comes with mixed emotions, as people across the United States reflect on one year of life in the era of COVID-19. From a rollercoaster of lockdown restrictions, isolation, mask-wearing and socially distancing, to finally experiencing a glimmer of hope with increasing vaccine distribution – it’s safe to say the past 12 months have been anything but ordinary.
People living with chronic conditions have faced a unique set of challenges throughout the pandemic thus far; to capture a holistic understanding of patient attitudes and behaviors across multiple moments in time, Health Union fielded a series of online surveys among its condition-specific online communities. With a variety of restrictions, in-person access to healthcare providers became limited, which introduced a more widespread use of telehealth.
At the one year mark – as Health Union prepares to survey its communities once again – let’s reflect on what we’ve learned about telehealth use and experiences, and the role it has played in continuity of care:
March 2020: Growing Concern and Social Distancing
To set the scene, many states were entering the first week of stay-at-home orders during the timeframe of Health Union’s first survey. Unsurprisingly, 71%* of respondents reported feeling “very concerned” about the novel coronavirus. At the onset of lockdown in the U.S., just 23% said they either had or planned to have a telehealth appointment.
April 2020: Telehealth Use Doubles
The second survey captured an initial uptick in telehealth usage, with 48% of respondents reporting they either had or planned to have a telehealth appointment.