More than half of Americans would use virtual care, UnitedHealth Group survey finds

A consumer sentiment survey from UnitedHealth Group found 56% of Americans say it is likely they would use virtual care for medical services. (Getty/mapodile)

While the rush to telehealth adoption may have slowed a bit from its highs early on in the pandemic, the data show consumer interest in virtual care continues to be piqued.

According to UnitedHealth Group's fifth annual UnitedHealthcare Consumer Sentiment Survey, which examines Americans’ opinions about multiple areas of healthcare, a survey-record 56% said it is likely they would use virtual care for medical services. 

More than a quarter of respondents (26%) said they would prefer a virtual relationship with a primary care physician, the survey found.

And when comparison shopping for care, 55% of respondents said they had used the internet or mobile apps to comparison shop for healthcare during the past year, with 1 in 4 patients saying that online or mobile resources were their first option for evaluating health issues.

RELATED: Consumers increasingly embrace tools to comparison shop for healthcare: survey 

“COVID-19 continues to reshape many aspects of our lives, including how people research health plan options and access medical care,” said Rebecca Madsen, chief consumer officer of UnitedHealthcare, in a statement. “This survey suggests many Americans are responding to COVID-19 by placing greater importance on comprehensive health benefits, robust well-being programs and access to technology to more effectively navigate the health system."

The consumer sentiment survey also found COVID-19 would influence their decision-making process as they selected a health plan this open enrollment season.

For instance, 44% of the respondents with a health plan said they expected COVID-19 would influence their preferred plan, with 16% saying they'd opt for an option with lower out-of-pocket costs. Meanwhile, 11% of those respondents said they would be looking for more well-being programs or resources, 10% wanted more comprehensive benefits and 6% wanted a national health plan instead of a regional one. 

Among the generations, Generation Z respondents were most likely to be influenced in their health plan decision-making (68%) compared to baby boomers (29%).