CVS study: Growing number of providers see value of digital health amid COVID-19

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, more providers are seeing telehealth as a critical tool to connect with patients, a new survey from CVS Health shows.

CVS researchers surveyed 1,000 customers and 400 providers for its annual Path to Better Health study and found that 40% of providers believe telemedicine is a key tool, an increase from 22% of providers in 2019's survey.

The survey also found an increased interest in digital health tools among patients. Nearly half (48%) said they would be more likely to reach out to their providers if they can do so through digital messaging, up from 41% of patients who said the same in 2019.

In addition, 32% said they'd be more likely to communicate with their care team if it was via telehealth and 29% said they would be more likely to do so through Skype or Facetime visits.

RELATED: Telehealth claims lines up 8,336% in April due to COVID-19, report finds

"The pandemic has forced countless Americans to rethink their approach to health and explore different avenues of care," Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS Health, said in a statement.

"Whether in the community, in the home or in the palm of their hand, people are discovering new ways to conveniently and affordably address their health care needs, including mental and behavioral health. We expect these changes will transform the way care is delivered moving forward," Merlo said.

Consumers expect convenience, the study found, with 92% saying it is either very or somewhat important that access to care be convenient for them.

RELATED: Aetna, Give an Hour team up to offer free counseling to front-line health workers

At least 40% of surveyed patients said they would be very likely to seek out behavioral or mental healthcare in digital channels as well.

Mental health issues were of significant concern, the survey found, especially as social distancing to combat COVID-19 is making people feel more isolated. Nearly half (44%) of those aged 18 to 34 and 45% of those aged 35 to 50 said they had no desire to be social, findings that are in line with 2019's survey.

The surveyed providers also noted behavioral health struggles. Three-quarters (75%) said they experience burnout symptoms either very frequently, frequently or sometimes, according to the report.