Skip to main content

Fear of Seeking In-person Medical Care is Rising as States Begin Reopening from COVID-19, According to New Data from Black Book Research and Sage Growth Partners

By Sage Growth | May 11, 2020

New survey results track evolving consumer sentiment, notably that telehealth is not one size fits all


Baltimore, MD – May 11, 2020 – Sage Growth Partners (SGP) and Black Book Market Research today announced findings from a third joint survey tracking evolving consumer attitudes related to challenges, needs, and perspectives during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The survey was administered to 591 U.S. healthcare consumers during the week of April 27, 2020 and updates the series that initiated March 23, 2020 to capture changing attitudes as this situation evolves.

As states begin reopening businesses and the number of coronavirus cases continue to climb, this third survey finds that people are increasingly fearful of visiting doctors’ offices and hospitals. While some may delay care due to concerns about potential exposure to COVID-19, others are willing to leverage telehealth – though this is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

View the full survey findings as they are updated here.

Key discoveries include:

Fear of seeking in-person healthcare is rising

  • Since the second survey, there has been a 6-point increase in consumers who say they feel unsafe going to their doctor’s office, up to 33%.
  • In addition, 41% of consumers say they would feel unsafe visiting a hospital (a 4-point increase) and 40% of consumers say they would feel unsafe at an urgent care.
  • Only 13% of respondents report being extremely likely to return to their doctor’s office for non-emergent care within the next two months. One in five (20%) report being somewhat likely, 20% are neither likely or unlikely, 23% are unlikely and 24% stated they are extremely unlikely.

Stress and social isolation are still fueling demand for remote behavioral and mental health services, though at lower levels than before

  • More than a third (35%) want increased access to remote behavioral or mental health services to help them treat and manage anxiety, depression, and social isolation – however this number has dropped from 47% in the April survey and 45% in the March survey, the lowest point yet.
  • Age plays a role: 46% of respondents age 18 to 24, and 47% of those 25 to 49, said they want more remote access to behavioral and mental health services. Only 25% of respondents age 55-64 and 12% of those 65+ desired these services.

Virtual care may become the new normal, yet access differs across gender, age, and income

  • The majority of respondents (78%) who have used telehealth were satisfied with their experience.
  • Men prefer video visits: 49% of male respondents preferred to conduct their telehealth visits via video, compared to 30% of female respondents.
  • Women prefer visits via phone: 49% of women compared to 35% of men would rather use the phone for their virtual healthcare visit.
  • Maintaining relationships: 68% of women chose telehealth visits from healthcare providers with whom they had an existing relationship, compared to 51% of men.
  • Older adults are reluctant to use telehealth: The overwhelming majority of consumers age 55 to 64 (81%) and age 65+ (84%) who have access to telehealth, have not had a virtual/ telemedicine visit. This compares to 50% of consumers under the age of 55 who have had a virtual/telemedicine visit.
  • Access rises with income: Only 36% of people making less than $25K say they have access to telehealth. This rises as income rises: 55% of people making $50K to $100K, 70% of those earning $100K to $200K, and 70% of those with an income of $200K+ have access.

“We are seeing telehealth rapidly become more accessible, more satisfying, and more comfortable for many users in the face of the ongoing pandemic,” said Grant Chamberlain, Managing Director in Ziegler’s Healthcare Corporate Finance Practice and elected member of the Board of Directors of the American Telemedicine Association and the MAVEN Project. “However, these data also demonstrate that groups facing the greatest risks right now – including older people and those with lower income – are not sharing in these benefits equally and will need special assistance to make the most of virtual care tools.”

“As this pandemic continues, it is impacting healthcare delivery in ways that will last beyond our current situation,” said Doug Brown, President of Black Book Market Research. “Understanding peoples’ views and opinions during this time, beyond a simple snapshot, is critical to making informed decisions for how we move forward. For many, their basic sense of security has been shaken and we need to fully appreciate and address that within healthcare in order to drive innovation and care delivery decisions that will help us progress.”

“There is a tremendous opportunity for telehealth to continue addressing care needs beyond the current crisis, and we are beginning to grasp how income, age and gender impact experience,” said Dan D’Orazio, SGP’s CEO. “Even as several states are taking initial steps to reopen, many people do not feel safe enough to visit healthcare organizations during this health crisis. This places pressure on providers’ bottom lines. For patients, untreated health issues can increase the risk of more serious health problems, leading to continued demand for mental health and chronic care treatment. While this can be a boost for telehealth, the industry should note that virtual care is not a one-size-fits-all solution and should be tailored to the audience.”


About Black Book

Black Book Market Research LLC, its founder, management, and staff do not own or hold any financial interest in any of the consultants and advisory firms covered and encompassed in the surveys it conducts. Black Book reports the results of the collected satisfaction and client experience rankings in publication and to media before firm notification of rating results and does not solicit survey participation fees, review fees, inclusion, or briefing charges, or involve consultant firm collaboration with Black Book before the announcement of the polling outcomes.

In 2009, Black Book began surveying the client experience of healthcare software and managed services users, as well as polling for trend identification, industry insights, and outcomes. Black Book expanded its survey prowess and reputation of independent, unbiased crowd-sourced surveying to technology professionals, physician practice administrators, clinicians, user-level staff, financial leaders, executives, and board members. Consultants and advisor satisfaction polls were first issued in 2011. In 2012, Black Book included payer organizations and insurers and, in 2015, launched panel surveying healthcare consumers.

About Sage Growth Partners

Sage Growth Partners accelerates commercial success for B2B, B2B2C, and B2C healthcare organizations through a singular focus on growth. The company helps its clients thrive amid the complexities of a rapidly changing marketplace with deep domain expertise and an integrated application of research, strategy, and marketing.

Founded in 2005, Sage Growth Partners is located in Baltimore, MD, and serves clients such as Philips Healthcare, U.S. Renal Care, Quest Diagnostics, Vocera, Livongo, Olive, It’s Never 2 Late, and Aperture.

Leave a Reply