3 Ways The Pandemic Has Permanently Changed The Minds Of Consumers


3 Ways The Pandemic Has Permanently Changed The Minds Of Consumers

For most people, the effect of Covid-19 on the body is temporary. A dry cough. Fever. Shortness of breath. Then recovery.

But the way the pandemic has altered the behavior of consumers may turn out to be a more permanent shift.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reported that the global cosmetics market is down 8%, with less people venturing out of their homes. Demand for at-home cooking products such as Hellman’s Mayonnaise, Knorr soup cubes, and frozen dinners are on the rise. Consumers are ordering more online, embracing food-delivery services, and buying cleaning and hygiene products in droves.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Here are three ways the pandemic has shifted consumers’ mindsets and purchasing behavior, with the data to prove it.

1) Live entertainment in the age of coronavirus

The live entertainment industry has experienced significant disruption since Covid-19 began spreading globally in January. The NBA suspended its season in early March. The International Olympic Committee postponed this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo until next year. Concert venues have been shuttered as many countries have limited social gatherings to 50, 10, or even 2 people.

What does the future hold for live entertainment? Data suggests that consumers’ fear of Covid-19 might keep them from returning to arenas, concert halls, and other venues even after the industry kicks back into gear. A recent global survey by Dynata, the world’s largest first-party survey platform, found that over half of people expressed significant concern about returning to live events.

“Our findings suggest a mood of caution as people think about a return to live experiences,” state the researchers at Dynata. “Sixty-five percent overall say they will return to live concerts quite slowly or not at all; 55% say the same for movies, 57% for sporting events and 64% for live theater.”

The team at Dynata also found that, since the pandemic started, more than half of those surveyed have live-streamed a concert, movie, sports event, or theatrical production, with movies being the most popular choice of entertainment. Live-streaming events is most common in China, where close to 70% of Chinese people have live-streamed at least one movie since the pandemic began.

Consumers aren’t nearly as shy about returning to restaurants. A recent survey by the Cincinnati-based experiential marketing firm AGAR found that consumers were more likely to indicate a desire to return to restaurants than sporting events, concerts, and cultural holidays and fairs.

Moreover, consumers are voicing a growing interest in health-conscious event planning. Asking consumers what event features they would most desire in the future, the team at AGAR found that hand sanitizing kiosks, social distancing ground stickers, and spaced-apart seating were on the top of the list. Interestingly, over a third of people expressed a willingness to pay a premium to attend smaller events with limited capacities.

“The results of the study clearly show us the path forward, what must be done to bring people back and to make them comfortable,” said AGAR founder, Josh Heuser. “It’s vital that we ensure people feel supported, safe and cared for while attending events.”

2) Contactless payment is becoming the rule not the exception

Covid-19 may have finally given contactless payment the nudge it needs to become the go-to mode of payment. The team at AGAR found that consumers view contactless payment as a necessary feature at live events moving forward.

Prior to the pandemic, approximately 22% of the more than 11,000 global respondents surveyed by Dynata expressed a preference for cash. This has now fallen to 15%. The countries most prepared to make the shift to contactless payment are China, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

“The past few months have seen an increase in the availability of contactless methods,” according to researchers at Dynata. “The biggest growth has been seen in the USA, moving from 38% to 46% ownership of a contactless method of payment.”

3) Adjusting to telemedicine

According to the researchers at Dynata, 84% of people using telemedicine services during the pandemic were doing so for the first time. And the data show that it is here to stay; 55% of people using telemedicine found the experience to be extremely or very satisfactory. Interestingly, people in the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada were most satisfied with the experience, perhaps because there is a relatively low number of doctors per capita in these countries.

Beyond telemedicine, consumers are increasingly interested in products that provide protection against environmental contaminants and pathogens. Wesley LaPorte, co-founder and CEO of PhoneSoap, a company that makes UV light phone sanitizers, notes a significant uptick (+500%) in PhoneSoap web traffic.

“As awareness of the spread of COVID-19 began to grow in the country, PhoneSoap quickly sold out of UV-C light sanitizers,” said LaPorte. “After the spike in March, web traffic is still significantly higher than last year, with consumers continuing to place pre-orders at unprecedented levels.”

Conclusion: Sigmund Freud was famous for popularizing the idea that human behavior is largely guided by sex, attraction, and the pleasure principle. Covid-19 provides a compelling counterpoint to Freud’s theory — that, especially during times of heightened panic and threat, it is the survival instinct that trumps all other motivations.




Providence, 1st to treat COVID-19 patient, posts $1.1B loss


Dr. Ryan Keay: Medicaid Plays a Crucial Role in Alleviating the ...

Dive Brief:

  • Providence posted a net loss of $1.1 billion and operating loss of $276 million for the first quarter of 2020, drastically down from a net gain of $543 million and operating loss of $4 million in the first quarter of 2019 as the COVID-19 pandemic has slashed financial operations for providers across the country.
  • The Catholic nonprofit system saw investment losses of $763 million as stock market volatility followed stay-at-home orders in March and April for much of the United States. That compared to a $582 million investment gain in the prior-year period.
  • Patient volumes dropped as Providence suspended non-emergency procedures amid the pandemic. Surgeries declined 8%, total outpatient visits dropped 3% and acute patient days were down 5%, according to a financial report filed late last week.

Dive Insight:

Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington, was the first to knowingly treat a COVID-19 patient in the United States — on Jan. 20. Since then, cases have plateaued, with the rate becoming “more manageable” throughout the communities Providence serves.

The system suspended elective procedures the week of March 16 and saw telehealth appointments skyrocket from an average of 50 visits per day to more than 12,000. “Now, the critical path forward is reopening services safely so that we can get back to patients who have delayed their care,” Providence CFO Venkat Bhamidipati said in a statement.

Providence reported receiving $509 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and $1.6 billion in accelerated Medicare payments. The system tapped $800 million in private credit lines as well. As of the end of the first quarter, Providence had 182 days cash on hand, down slightly from the prior-year period.

The hospital operator is far from alone in reporting steep first-quarter losses, and ratings agencies predict the second quarter will not be kind to nonprofits either.

So far, the system has not imposed layoffs but has cut overtime and seen voluntary furloughs and executive pay cuts. “If patient census and revenue does not return to anticipated levels, we would also consider involuntary options,” according to the filing.

Providence’s operating EBIDTA margin was down to 0.9% in the first quarter of this year from 5.5% in the first quarter of 2019.

Operating expenses increased 10% to $6.6 billion, driven by increases in labor costs and supplies. The system noted paying “significantly higher” premiums to obtain personal protective equipment and increased costs for ICU medications amid the pandemic.

The filing discloses a complaint under the California Corporations Code from earlier this month. It was filed by two of the three corporate members of Hoag Hospital, seeking to dissolve the third member and remove Hoag as an obligated group member. Providence states it “believes that the complaint is without merit, and believes the legal process will vindicate this position.”

The 51-hospital system created by the 2016 merger of Washington-based Providence and California-based St. Joseph is coming off a 2019 surplus of $1.36 billion, swinging to the black from 2018’s deficit of $445 million.





Charting the rebound of physician office visits


MultiBrief: Telehealth is keeping doctors, patients connected in ...

As patients begin to return to doctors’ offices, we were intrigued to read an analysis out this week from the Commonwealth Fund that provides a first glimpse into the pace of the recovery. Researchers from Harvard University and healthcare technology company Phreesia analyzed data from 12M visits at over 50,000 physician practices, finding that in-person visits had declined nearly 70 percent by mid-April, compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Behavioral health providers, medical specialists and primary care practices maintained the most volume, and procedural specialists were the hardest hit. Many practices deployed telemedicine quickly, but even with those added encounters, total visits were still down by nearly 60 percent. While visits are starting to return, it’s likely that physician practices are in for a long, slow rebound. Telemedicine as a percentage of all visits peaked in late April, and by mid-May, in-person visits had reached 55 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

Even if virtual volumes pull back from their COVID high, we’re likely to see telemedicine play a much more expansive role moving forward. Dr. Rushika Fernandopulle, CEO of Iora Health, shared his company’s learnings from their COVID-19 response, predicting that ultimately 70-80 percent of physician encounters could be virtual, necessitating a need to reorganize care delivery around populations, instead of practices.

Expect the next year to be a reckoning as changes in payment and regulations, combined with a heated marketplace for virtual care, continue to shift the balance between in-person and virtual care.



Is it time for hospital at home?


JAMA - The John A. Hartford Foundation

We’ve long been intrigued by “hospital at home” care models, which deliver hospital-level care for acute conditions, supported by caregivers and technology, in a patient’s home. Stymied by the lack of payment, however, few health systems have pursued the approach. But as COVID-19 has made patients fearful of entering hospitals, we’ve had a flurry of health system leaders ask us whether they should consider launching a program now.

We think the answer is yes—with some caveats. A growing body of evidence supports its use. Cost of care is lower compared to a traditional inpatient stay. Patient satisfaction with care is high. And from a clinical perspective, hospital at home is well-established, capable of managing a number of mild- and moderate-acuity medical conditions, including exacerbations of chronic diseases like heart failure and diabetes, as well as infections like pneumonia and cellulitis, often better than a traditional hospital stay. Some programs are now using hospital at home for management of COVID-19 patients as well. Physician leaders we’ve spoken with are also interested in using the approach to manage post-operative recovery.

“Over half of our joint replacement patients spend time in skilled nursing or inpatient rehab,” one doctor told us. “People think those places are death traps now, and those cases aren’t coming back until we can find another way for them to recover.”

For patients averse to facility-based care, and systems wanting to offer an alternative, hospital at home sounds like a panacea. But experts recommend approaching it with a clear eye to the economics and ramp-up time, which can easily take 12 to 18 months. With emergency regulations released last month, Medicare will now provide payment for hospital care provided in an alternate setting, including the patient’s home—although it’s unclear whether that will continue once the COVID emergency ends. Commercial payer coverage usually requires a separate negotiation.

According to one leader, “Grass roots support of doctors is not enough. The CEO and CFO have to be on board with changing the care and payment model if it’s ever going to be more than a pilot.” But with patients and doctors becoming more comfortable with virtual care and open to new options, there is a a window of opportunity for expanding home-based care—and the longer the COVID-19 crisis lasts, the more hospital at home could provide a competitive advantage over being admitted to a busy, crowded inpatient hospital.




COVID-19 Tracking Poll: Most Californians Continue to Favor Staying Home Despite Economic Consequences

COVID-19 Tracking Poll: Most Californians Continue to Favor Staying Home Despite Economic Consequences

COVID-19 Tracking Poll: Most Californians Continue to Favor ...

To help Californians and state policymakers understand evolving demands on the state’s health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic, CHCF is working with survey firms on two fronts. CHCF and global survey firm Ipsos are assessing residents’ desire for COVID-19 testing and their access to health care services. CHCF and Truth on Call, a physician market-research firm, are surveying hospital-based critical care, emergency department, and infectious disease physicians about staffing and the availability of testing, personal protective equipment (PPE), intensive care unit beds, and ventilators. Download the charts and data for your own presentations and analyses.

Californians’ support for sheltering in place to curb the spread of coronavirus remains strong, according to a new tracking poll from CHCF and survey firm Ipsos.

For the second time in two weeks, Californians were asked which of the following statements came “closest to your opinion” of the state’s pandemic response:

  • Californians should continue to shelter in place for as long as is needed to curb the spread of coronavirus, even if it means continued damage to the economy.
  • Californians should stop sheltering in place to stimulate the economy even if it means increasing the spread of coronavirus.

This week, 71% of Californians want to continue the statewide order, compared to 75% two weeks ago. The change is within the statistical margin of error. This week, 17% say to stop sheltering in place, and 12% say they don’t know or have no opinion. Seventy-three percent of Californians with incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty guidelines (PDF) support the stay-at-home orders.

Support for sheltering in place is strong among Californians no matter the setting in which they live. Seventy-three percent of urban residents support continuing to stay at home compared to 72% of rural Californians, and 68% of suburban residents.

As public officials plan greater use of “contact tracing” in future phases of COVID-19 containment efforts, Californians were asked which of the following came closest to their opinion about sharing personal information with public health officials:

  • I am willing to share personal information about my health, movements, and contacts with local and state public health officials in order to help them understand and combat the spread of coronavirus.
  • I am not willing to share personal information about my health, movements, and contacts with local and state public health officials under any circumstances.

Sixty percent of state residents are willing to share personal information to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, while 21% are unwilling to share information under any circumstances, and 18% don’t know or have no opinion. These results have changed little in two weeks. Forty-nine percent of Black Californians (not shown) and 50% of Californians with low incomes are willing to share information.

Public officials are discussing moving from broad shelter-in-place strategies to more targeted quarantine-and-isolate approaches to COVID-19 containment. In this week’s tracking survey, CHCF and Ipsos asked Californians who live with at least one other person about their capacity to physically separate themselves from others in their home. According to the most recent US Census data, 11% of Californians live alone.

Eighty-one percent of those who live with at least one other person say they have access to a separate bedroom at home, and 58% say they have access to both a separate bedroom and a separate bathroom. Among Californians with low incomes, 74% of those who live with at least one other person have access to a separate bedroom, and 38% have access to a separate bedroom and a separate bathroom. Sixteen percent of all Californians surveyed and 22% of Californians with low incomes do not have access to a separate bedroom.

Californians say they continue to engage in recommended behaviors to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Eighty-four percent say they avoid unnecessary trips out of the home “all of the time” or “most of the time.” With regard to other public health behaviors:

  • 81% of Californians say they routinely wear a mask in public spaces all or most of the time.
  • 93% say they stay at least six feet away from others in public spaces all or most of the time.
  • 93% say they wash their hands frequently with soap and water all or most of the time.

Compared with previous editions of the tracking survey, the percentage of Californians who would like to get tested increased. This week, 17% of those surveyed say they haven’t sought a test but would like to get one, up from 11% in the first survey in March.

As in findings in previous rounds of the tracking survey, 2.7% of Californians report they were tested in the preceding seven days. More Californians with low incomes report trying and failing to get tested than those overall (5.8% vs. 2.4%).

The share of Californians seeing health care providers by phone or video continues to rise. This week, 8% of Californians report seeing a provider by phone or video. The portion of Californians seeing a health care provider in person in the previous week has fallen by half, from 10% to 5% since this poll began in March.

The growth in telehealth appointments is more pronounced for Californians with low incomes, with 11% reporting that they saw a provider by phone or video in the previous seven days compared to 1.7% in late March.

Over the previous seven days, 70% of Californians say their mental health is “about the same” as before. This response is unchanged from two weeks ago. The percentage of respondents saying their mental health has gotten “a little” or “a lot” worse declined from 22% to 18%. This change is within the margin of error.

Less than 1% of Californians say they have lost health insurance coverage in the last month. Fifteen percent are “very” or “somewhat” worried about losing coverage, and among Californians with low incomes, 27% are worried about losing health insurance coverage.




What we’ve learned from the telemedicine explosion


Why telemedicine could be the next big thing in employee healthcare

In our decades in healthcare, we’ve never seen a faster care transformation than the rapid growth in telemedicine sparked by COVID-19. Every system we’ve spoken with over the past two months reports its doctors are now performing thousands of “virtual visits” each week, often up from just a handful in February. As one chief digital officer told us, “We took our three-year digital strategic plan and implemented it in two weeks!

This week, we convened leaders from across our Gist Healthcare membership to share learnings and questions about their telemedicine experiences. COVID-19 brought down regulatory and payment hurdles, as well as internal cultural barriers to adoption—but leaders expressed a concern that current payment levels and physician enthusiasm could dissipate. Some insurers have hinted at pulling back on payment, although they will have a hard time doing so as long as Medicare maintains “parity” with in-person visits.

Switching to 100 percent telemedicine was easier than most doctors anticipated. But as practices now begin to ramp up office visits, new questions are emerging about how to integrate digital and physical visit workflow, requiring providers to rethink office layout and technology within the practice: is there a good physical space in the office to conduct televisits? Zoom and FaceTime have worked in a pinch, but what platform is best for long-term operational sustainability and consumer experience?

Telemedicine has also raised consumer expectations: patients expect providers to be on time for a virtual appointment—setting a bar for punctuality that will likely carry over to their next in-person office visit. Across the rest of this year, health systems and physician groups will continue to push the boundaries of virtual care, establishing how far it can be extended to provide quality care in a host of specialties.

But at the same time, systems must also prepare for growing complexity in 2021: what is the right balance of in-person versus virtual care? How should telemedicine integrate with urgent and emergency care offerings? How should physician compensation change? And as payers and disruptors expand their virtual care offerings, how can providers differentiate their own platforms in the eyes of consumers? We’ll continue to share learnings as our members work through the myriad challenges and opportunities of this new virtual care expansion.




Most consumers nervous about returning to care settings


As non-essential businesses begin to reopen, there’s no guarantee that merely opening the doors will make customers return. A recent Morning Consult poll provides an assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on consumer confidence: fewer than one in five US adults are currently comfortable doing (formerly) everyday activities like eating at a restaurant or going to a shopping mall.

The graphic below provides similar data for healthcare. Consumers’ willingness to visit healthcare providers in person for non-COVID care is only slightly better, at 21 percent. Which providers might see patients return most quickly?

Consumers say they are about twice as likely to visit their primary care doctor’s office than other healthcare facilities, including hospitals, specialists, and walk-in clinics. And when it comes to scheduling a routine in-office visit, nearly half say they will wait two to six months, with almost one in ten not comfortable going to a doctor’s office in person for a year or more.

Healthcare facilities face an uphill battle in bringing back patients—many of whom have ongoing chronic diseases that necessitate care now. Reaching patients through telemedicine and providing concrete messages about how they can safely see their doctor will be critical to staving off a tide of disease exacerbations that will mount as fear delays much-needed care.