CVS Health has announced the official launch of Time for Care, a campaign that reinforces the importance of accessing primary health care. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans have appropriately focused on staying home to keep themselves and others healthy. Although this kind of physical distancing is still an essential component of preventing the spread of COVID-19, CVS Health leaders developed Time for Care to emphasize that it is critical for people to continue prioritizing health care needs.
“While we remain focused on reducing the spread of COVID-19, we also need to make sure that we’re encouraging people to get the care they need to avoid worse health outcomes in the future particularly people with chronic health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease,” says Garth Graham, MD, VP, Community Health and Chief Community Health Officer for CVS Health. “The ‘Time for Care’ campaign drives that message home while reminding everyone of the precautions they can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Time for Care includes a national television ad along with a microsite, digital content, and Aetna member program components that address concerns for people with chronic health conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as specific health issues such as high-risk pregnancies due to preeclampsia. To help inform the campaign’s design, Aetna and Morning Consult initiated a national survey among 4,400 Americans to identify barriers to accessing care amid COVID-19.
According to the survey, nearly 60 percent of Americans have canceled or delayed a health care appointment due to concerns about exposure to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Half of Americans have concerns the pandemic has negatively affected their own health or the health of someone in their household. Nearly 60 percent of people with chronic conditions are concerned the pandemic has negatively affected their own health or the health of someone in their household. And half of pregnant mothers are not confident their primary care physicians have put the necessary measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Now is the time to reevaluate both our physical and mental health needs not only for our families, but for ourselves,” Dr. Graham says. “We all need to find ways to actively and safely reconnect with health care providers and encourage loved ones to do the same.”
CVS Health also recently released results from its 2020 Path to Better Health Study, where consumers and providers were asked for their thoughts on the state of health care and how they are navigating this evolving landscape. While certain attitudes may have evolved as a result of COVID-19, the study reveals that consumers need more accessible, personalized and technology-driven health care than ever before, and are seeking simplicity in the way they engage in their own health.
According to survey results, the use of technology and data analytics in health care is reaching new heights, and the pandemic is accelerating the adoption of digitally based solutions. Consumers are eagerly embracing tech, especially when it comes to communicating with their providers. Forty-eight percent said they would be more likely to communicate with health care professionals if they were able to do so through digital messaging (up from 41 percent in 2019), via telehealth (32 percent, up from 19 percent in 2019) and through virtual office visits such as Skype or FaceTime (29 percent, up from 20 percent in 2019). Additionally, 40 percent of consumers said they would be very likely to receive care for mental and behavioral health virtually.
“The pandemic has forced countless Americans to rethink their approach to health and explore different avenues of care,” says Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS Health. “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.”
The need to manage chronic conditions and mental health concerns is clearly top of mind for many consumers. A significant number of people indicated that members of their households are struggling with high blood pressure (41 percent), obesity (35 percent), mental illness (28 percent), and diabetes (17 percent).
Addressing mental health concerns is also of growing importance, especially among those aged 18–34 and 35–50, where social isolation is a top concern. For example, 44 percent of those aged 18–34 and 45 percent of those aged 35–50 indicated they no longer have a desire to be social, while only 29 percent of those aged 51–64 said the same. This resembles the 2019 findings, in which 48 percent of those 18-34 and 45 percent of those 35-50 reported they did not have a desire to be social, versus 35 percent of people aged 51-64.
The desire for accessibility is pushing people to explore new avenues of care. While a majority (62 percent) of consumers still go to their primary care physician (PCP) to treat a minor illness or injury, nearly one-third (31 percent) are likely to visit a non-emergency walk-in clinic. This is up from 2019, in which 59 percent of consumers reported going to their PCP for a minor illness or injury, while 28 percent said they would visit a non-emergency walk-in clinic. Digital solutions such as telemedicine are also growing in popularity with both patients and providers.
Most consumers (92 percent) said it is very or somewhat important that health care be convenient, a factor that has only become more critical as a result of COVID-19. However, about one-third (35 percent) of people said health care costs are an obstacle to staying healthy, and close to half (49 percent) have not visited a doctor when they had a minor illness or injury due to cost. Despite cost emerging as a top barrier to care, it is not often a topic of discussion between patients and health care providers. Two-thirds of patients (66 percent) said their PCP and other health care providers had not asked about the “affordability” of health care and/or discussed resources to assist with these costs, up slightly from 64 percent in the 2019 Path to Better Health Study.
The study’s results suggest that health care providers are increasingly turning to digital tools and technologies to care for and connect with their patients. Telemedicine is of particular interest, with 40 percent of providers saying it is very valuable for communicating with patients, up from 22 percent in the 2019 study. The future outlook for incorporating predictive analytics or artificial intelligence into provider practices also looks strong, with more than one-third (39 percent) indicating they already have or are very or somewhat likely to integrate these technologies into their practices within the next several years.
Also, providers are expressing the need for additional support for important community resources, but access is improving. For example, many providers said they have fair or poor access to substance abuse counselors (56 percent) and mental health counselors (50 percent), down from 63 percent and 55 percent in our 2019 study, respectively.
Many providers are experiencing burnout symptoms. Three-fourths (75 percent) of all providers said they feel burned out very frequently, frequently, or sometimes. About one-quarter (27 percent) said the main cause of burnout is time spent documenting care/electronic record systems, followed by administrative/management requirements/paperwork (25 percent).
The Path to Better Health Study by CVS Health, first released in 2018 and called the Health Ambitions Study, was conducted in March 2020 and included two surveys fielded by Market Measurement, a national market research consulting company. The consumer survey comprised 1,000 participants 18 and older, located throughout the United States. It also oversampled these metropolitan statistical areas — Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Providence, Hartford, San Francisco and Tampa, and among two ethnic groups: African Americans and Hispanics. The survey of 400 providers focused on primary care physicians and specialists with at least two years’ experience, as well as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and pharmacists. medadnews