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CVS Health study finds people embracing holistic outlook on health

CVS Health’s 2022 Health Care Insights study highlights consumers’ preferences for a new kind of healthcare experience and their openness to nontraditional options, as well as holistic care choices involving diet, exercise and counseling.
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A new study from CVS Health is examining the type of healthcare experience people are seeking in a post-pandemic environment. The 2022 Health Care Insights Study also takes a look at how consumers view mental health services and their relationship with providers.

The study found people care about their health as much — or more — than they did compared to pre-pandemic. People are no longer putting off their checkups or screenings due to pandemic concerns and are eager to continue their health-and-wellness journeys.

CVS Health surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers and 400 healthcare providers about what kind of healthcare experience they want and what barriers may hinder their ability to achieve desired health outcomes. The study also reveals consumers’ evolving views about a post-pandemic healthcare industry, how consumers perceive their own well-being and what consumers define as an ideal care delivery experience. 

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“The pandemic changed nearly everything about our world —including the way many consumers view the importance of their health,” said president and CEO Karen Lynch. “As we look to the future, CVS Health is uniquely positioned to reimagine health care that is centered around people — simpler, more accessible and more affordable, with better health outcomes.”

This year’s findings show that people have embraced a holistic outlook on health, and they are increasingly searching for a new kind of healthcare experience that’s simpler and more efficient. Patients value deeper and more meaningful relationships with their primary care physicians and other providers, and are finding that new virtual care options are filling in gaps and making it easier to achieve successful relationships with their PCPs.

“An important part of removing barriers and stigma around mental health is to make care and resources more available and easier to use. Virtual care visits for mental health are an accessible and convenient option that allows patients to speak about intimate and emotional topics like depression, anxiety or substance use concerns. Nearly half of consumers said they are likely to seek out mental health services if a virtual visit is available” Cara McNulty, DPA, president, behavioral health and mental well-being at CVS Health, said exclusively to DSN.

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“In fact, in the past two years alone, CVS Health’s virtual visits for mental health spiked from 10,000 per year to 10 million last year. Developing scalable mental health innovation is a critical way we are helping people better manage feelings of grief, depression and anxiety over time.” she said.

The study also found that people want their PCPs to know and understand their lifestyle choices, personal health goals, family medical histories and more, and are open to their health information being shared virtually across care settings to ensure seamless continuity of care. Coordination and communication are the two watchwords for a new generation of health care, CVS said.

According to the study, patients generally trust their providers, including primary care physicians, nurses, pharmacists and others. They also are seeking support and guidance on medication adherence mental health needs and other areas. Quick and easy connections with providers via phone calls, texts and other virtual means are highly valued by patients.

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“New digital capabilities are a critical part of the healthcare ecosystem and help create a consumer-centric experience. Mobile and digital solutions enable patients to access healthcare services in a way they find most convenient,” Michelle Peluso, chief customer officer and co-president of CVS Pharmacy, said to DSN.

“A great example is CVS Health’s digital Health Dashboard, which is available via the CVS app or and houses important health records, such as vaccination history, diagnostic lab results and medications, all in one place, so they have a 360-degree view of their health at any time.” Peluso said.

Other highlights from the study include:

  • Consumers have a holistic approach on what health care should look like. Eighty-one percent said it’s important that their primary care provider be aware of their overall happiness and satisfaction with life, and 81% said they want their primary care provider to be aware of their stress levels and how they’re dealing with difficult decisions;
  • Sixty percent of consumers who are taking a specialty medication for complex conditions indicated communication between their primary care physician and specialist was very important and 32% said it was somewhat important;
  • Providers feel very pressed for time. The research found that 88% of providers wish they had more time to spend with and care for patients with complex conditions;
  • New health habits over the past year have focused mostly on upping physical activity levels (44%), lowering stress (39%), losing weight (38%) and eating a balanced diet (38%);
  • Eighty percent said it’s important that their primary care providers be aware of their health goals;
  • Adopting a healthy lifestyle is now top of mind for many, with 22% indicating that COVID-19 has led them to care about their health more than ever before, 44% have embraced new health habits or goals specifically because of COVID-19, and 12% have considered adopting new health goals because of COVID-19;
  • The COVID-19 pandemic’s societal, economic, environmental and political ripple effects deeply impacted and continue to impact consumers’ mental health. In the last 12 months, consumers indicated that they have experienced stress from the following: political climate (76%); evolving public health guidance regarding pandemic measures (71%); societal issues like poverty, climate change and civil rights (69%); and safety and neighborhood security (58%);  
  • Not all consumers feel comfortable seeking mental health help or believe these services would work for them. Eleven percent would be embarrassed or ashamed to seek mental health help for themselves. while 10% said mental health services don’t benefit them and they would never use them;
  • Many people understand that mental health must be addressed. Forty percent feel mental health services are beneficial and would use them if needed, 26% feel mental health services are beneficial and have used them, 23% who self-identified as Black view mental health services as very helpful and have used them, and 20% of people who identified as Hispanic also agree;
  • The future of care delivery demands a new collaborative team approach. Sixty-eight percent of physicians said coordinating with their patients’ other care providers had a high to moderate impact on their ability to achieve desired outcomes for patients, and 64% said offering patients access to other healthcare professionals to help coordinate care had a high to moderate impact;
  • People want health care that is open-ended, flexible and unique. The study found that 62% of consumers said they are either very or somewhat likely to use a virtual visit if they don’t need a physical exam;
  • Eighty-three percent of people said that they want their primary care provider to know about their family medical history, genetics and inherited lifestyle habits. Eighty-nine percent of providers strongly/somewhat agree that automated reminders like texts, calls and phone notifications are valuable in treating patients with complex conditions and/or specialty medication needs;  
  • Eighty-nine percent of consumers who take specialty medications or have a complex condition said medication refill reminders by phone or text were very or somewhat important;
  • Consumers are open to nontraditional healthcare options, with over half (54%) saying holistic care options involving diet, exercise and counseling are either very or somewhat important to them; and
  • Consumers’ trust in their healthcare providers has remained strong despite pandemic-related difficulties. Forty-four percent of consumers said they now have more appreciation for their healthcare provider than pre-pandemic.

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“As a result of the pandemic, consumers relied on digital tools to manage their health in unprecedented ways — and as so many industries have seen, once they adopt those approaches, they never go back,” Peluso told to DSN. “The ability to proactively navigate an individual to the right care at the right time and in the channel of their choosing is a tremendous opportunity, with digital consumers often reporting better health outcomes, including better adherence.”

The full study is available to read online

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