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Study: Consumers want more accessible, affordable, technology-enabled care

The Editors


The COVID-19 pandemic has only served to accelerate what consumers were already seeking — more convenient, personalized health care and health solutions that meet them where they are: in store, in home, and in hand.

The American health care system was already undergoing a time of accelerated innovation and transformation. Consumer expectations for convenient and personalized health care support, coupled with the exploding use of technology and data analytics, are just some of the trends driving critical change. The current, unprecedented situation has also provided an opportunity to further advance health care delivery and utilization to better meet the needs of patients, customers and communities.

According to our 2020 Path to Better Health Study, now in its third year, consumers and providers are hungry for this care transformation.


Importance of Accessibility and Affordability

Delivering accessible, high-quality care — a priority at any time — has become even more significant during the pandemic. Of study respondents, 92 percent indicated it was "very" or "somewhat" important that health care be convenient.

This need for accessibility is pushing them to explore new avenues of care with nearly one-third of consumers now likely to visit a non-emergency walk-in clinic.


Consumers are receiving routine support for minor illnesses or injuries at several sites of care:

  • 62% Primary care physician
  • 31% Emergency walk-in cinics
  • 18% Hospital emergency rooms
  • 15% Community health clinics
  • 12% Online (e.g., through telemedicine or health apps)


Along with its challenges, COVID-19 has provided an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate transformation and drive lasting and systemic change in the American health care system. CVS Health will play a critical role in this transformation by meeting the health needs of plan members and consumers, during and after the pandemic, with our growing local presence and expansion of virtual care, telemedicine, and other omnichannel programs.


Consumers are demanding convenience and ease in how they access health services. Technological solutions have the power to simplify health care and significantly expand the ways we deliver it.

Larry Merlo, CEO, CVS Health


Affordability is also top-of-mind for consumers. According to study findings, about one-third (35 percent) of people found health care costs are an obstacle to staying healthy. Close to half (49 percent) did not visit a doctor when they had a minor illness or injury due to cost concerns. Suggesting that consumers could use additional support in this area.


Of Study Respondents:

  • 35% said health care costs are an obstacle to staying health
  • 49% had not visited a doctor when they had a minor illness or injury due to cost


Increasing Appetite for Technology-Enabled Care

The use of technology across the health care continuum has been rising at a rapid rate. The pace of technological transformation is only likely to quicken and will greatly influence the future of care delivery.

People want to use technology to enhance communication with their health care providers, by adopting tools like digital messaging, telemedicine and virtual office visits, the study showed. Use of digital technologies to care for and connect with patients is also expanding among providers, with 40 percent of providers saying telehealth is "very valuable" for communicating with patients — up from 22 percent in the 2019 study.

Other study findings include:

  • Mental health is of critical concern for consumers, especially among those aged 18–34 and 35–50, with the issue of social isolation being a top concern
  • Consumers, as well as their friends, family and other household members, are struggling with chronic conditions, including high blood pressure, obesity, mental illness and diabetes
  • Health care providers still need more support in accessing important community-based resources, such as nutritionists and social workers, but this access is improving
  • Many providers are experiencing burnout symptoms at least some of the time
  • Awareness of and involvement in value-based care models is growing


The 2020 Path to Better Health Study highlights that the American health care industry needs to evolve to ensure the consumer care experience is more local, personalized and convenient. As we look toward the future, it’s our mission as a company to help lead this change and support people in achieving better outcomes not just for physical health, but for total health.

Methodology: 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 firm. The consumer survey comprised 1,000 participants 18 and older, located throughout the U.S. It also oversampled 12 metropolitan statistical areas — Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Providence, Hartford, San Francisco, 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.

The source for data in this document is CVS Health Enterprise Analytics, unless otherwise noted.

CVS Health uses and shares data as allowed by applicable law, and by our agreements and our information firewall.

This page contains trademarks or registered trademarks of CVS Pharmacy, Inc. and/or one of its affiliates.

Image source: Licensed from Getty Images, 2020.