The COVID-19 pandemic has caused nothing short of a healthcare revolution. With significantly more emphasis now being placed on the role of 'digital' and health and wellbeing being placed at the top of most organisation’s agendas, the future of health insurance will be decidedly different.
First and foremost, as we head into the so-called “new normal”, consumers will no longer expect digital solutions to be an option, but rather the norm.
We’ve seen adoption of digital healthcare increase exponentially throughout the pandemic. According to data from Vitality, the number of virtual GP consultations their members accessed in the first four months of 2021 vs. the same period in 2019 was up 104%.
Likewise, the majority of NHS primary care interactions are now remote (by telephone, video or online), with a July 2020 Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) survey showing that more than 88% of UK GP practices are now equipped for online or video consultations, compared with just 5% pre-pandemic.
The same RCGP data shows that, in the 4 weeks to 18 October 2020, less than 40% of GP consultations were delivered face-to-face, compared with 73% in the same period in 2019.
The RCGP says general practice has undergone a ‘technological revolution’ during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it warns that facilitating access to GP services in ways that meet their health needs and preferences will be vital.
Going forward, value-add benefits, such as virtual GP services, will be a must.
[Related reading: Pandemic Or No Pandemic, Virtual Healthcare Is Here To Stay]
Prior to the novel coronavirus outbreak, few consumers had ever considered what the impact of a global pandemic would be on their lives and society in general. Now, having experienced such a reality first-hand over the last 16 months, most individuals will have greater awareness of the importance of health and wellbeing and, as a result, will have reconsidered the value of private medical insurance.
Indeed, August 2020 data from Accenture revealed how personal health was the number one priority for consumers, with the health of friends and family second, above financial security and food and medicines security.
Aside from making positive lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake and increasing physical activity, health insurance is another way of safeguarding health and wellbeing.
As the COVID-19 virus proliferated throughout the UK, many NHS hospitals found themselves struggling to cope with the increased number of patients. Then, in April 2020, the NHS and private hospital sector struck a landmark agreement, which saw all non-urgent private procedures postponed and all available private hospital capacity dedicated to the NHS.
This agreement highlighted the crucial role the private hospital sector could play in alleviating pressure on the health service. For many consumers, this move will have emphasised how private healthcare can facilitate faster outcomes and spur
According to a June 2021 survey by global management consulting firm L.E.K., UK private healthcare users expect to resume their pre-pandemic levels of spending on their health or increase it in 2021. In fact, the UK market is the most buoyant, with spending set to increase across all 15 of the private healthcare sub-sectors reviewed.
[Related reading: 10 Reasons To Consider Private Healthcare In The UK?]
The pandemic has highlighted the need for people to be able to access their healthcare policies remotely and as quickly as possible. Clinical pathways and remote GP offerings are more important than ever before and they are definitely here to stay.
Furthermore, the past year has changed the lives and behaviours of consumers for good. The future of health insurance will be predominantly digital, with a strong focus on maintaining health and wellbeing to prevent undesired outcomes.