When cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 began to rise, consumers avoided in-person doctor visits, opting instead for telehealth or other virtual medical appointments. Seventy-five million patients received their healthcare online in December 2021, up 2.9% from November 2021, according to The ConnectedEconomy Monthly Report, a PYMNTS report that surveys approximately 2,500 U.S. consumers each month and is based on the 18,000 consumers that PYMNTS has surveyed since March 6, 2020.
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PYMNTS research shows that 2.1 million more consumers accessed health products and services online in December compared to the previous month. Additionally, 2.8 million fewer consumers attended in-person medical appointments in December compared to November. This shift in consumer behavior coincides noticeably with both the first spike in omicron infection rates and the holiday travel season.
Millennials were the primary users of digital healthcare options. They are the most likely of all demographic age groups to obtain healthcare-related products and services online, with 46% (13 million) having done so in December. That compares to just 27% of Gen Xers and 13% of baby boomers and seniors.
Millennials are most likely to have accessed nearly every type of digital healthcare option, with one exception: Gen Z are most likely to have obtained their mental and behavioral health services online.
Among the consumer groups identified in PYMNTS’ research, financial wellness seekers and convenience seekers are digital-first healthcare enthusiasts. These groups are 50% more likely than the average consumer to obtain health care online.
Forty-five percent of each of these two groups of people accessed their health-related products and services online in December, but their use of digital healthcare options varied. The difference is that while financial health seekers are more likely to attend telehealth appointments and use online-only health services, convenience seekers are more likely to use digital channels to schedule , pay and manage in-person appointments.