In-person consultations see a dramatic drop
It comes as no surprise that there has been a dramatic drop in the frequency of doctor consultations worldwide, with nearly 70% of people having completely stopped visiting the doctor or massively reduced their medical consultations since the outbreak. This trend is apparent across all countries. South Africans have been fairly cautious about in-person consultations with only 28% continuing to visit their doctors, irrespective of the risk. At least 40% of Nigerians reduced the frequency of in-person medical visits.
Patients and doctors have adapted quickly, finding new consultation alternatives. Over a third of people have reduced in-person consultations and have started to consult medical professionals online, and nearly a quarter have used telephonic consultations for the first time. Households with children are more ready to embrace online consultations than those without children in them.Phone and video consultations gain traction
In terms of the online methods of consultation utilised, phones are more common than computers. In-app chats are preferred, with social media and video also being commonly used. Non-millennials especially drive the in-app preference, while millennials are happy with all forms of online media.
Globally, three-quarters of people appreciate doctors offering video consultation options. Although this sentiment is more strongly felt by millennials, it is also important for non-millennials.
Nigerians are especially satisfied with video consultations whereas South Africans rated their satisfaction with online modes lower than did most other countries.Prime opportunities for digital medical consultations
Going forwards, two-thirds of people will use only online or a combination of an online and in-person consultation. Millennials are driving this trend particularly strongly, but all age groups show enthusiasm for digital consultation options. In total, only 17% of people are still adamant that they will solely use in-person consultation.Developing markets drive the requirement for digital consultations
Interestingly, the willingness to embrace digital consultations is more strongly driven by developing than developed markets. Nigerians indicate a much stronger likelihood to utilise digital methods in future than do South Africans. Globally, those who stopped in-person consultations for safety reasons are more likely to continue with digital methods, having discovered that they adequately fulfil their needs.Four-fifths of people globally will use online consultations going forwards
A striking 80% of people believe they are very likely or likely to use online consultation modes in future, compared to the 43% of people who are using them now.
We are already witnessing a pivot towards online modes in so many areas of life, as people settle into the work-from-home
regime, and embrace digitisation
The healthcare profession is thus presented with a prime opportunity to meet the needs of patients - especially in developing countries - by providing adequate and comprehensive digital consultation options, drawing on learnings gained during the respective lockdown periods, and extending these as the world adjusts to its new normal.
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