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The pandemic has pushed patients online for healthcare needs and health-related information (including treatment info), results from DRG’s Cybercitizen Health U.S. 2020 survey show.

Coronavirus, its related disruptions to care, and costs weigh on patients
Patients are under enormous strain across multiple aspects of their lives as the pandemic grinds on.
Nearly 2 in 5 (38%) have experienced loss or reduction of income

1 in 4 (25%) said their mental health has suffered as a result of the COVID-19 crisis

More than 2 in 5 (44%) reported having experienced a change in how they receive care

Impact on healthcare as a result of COVID-19:
44% of U.S. adults experienced some form of healthcare disruption as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
Among U.S. online adults (n=4884)
Source: Cybercitizen Health® U.S. 2020

Healthcare costs are an even more urgent concern for patients this year, as many grapple with COVID-19-related economic insecurity (23% of those surveyed had experienced a recent loss of employment). More than 2 in 5 patients say their healthcare costs have increased in the past 2 years, and 19% say paying medical bills is a challenge.
Health expenses increased**
37%
of U.S. adults agree**
"I am not aware of any prescription drug programs provided by a pharmaceutical company."

**Among those who said their expense have increased in the past two years (n=2169)
Among U.S. online adults (n=4884)
Source: Cybercitizen Health® U.S. 2019-2020

This is an area where help from pharma would be welcome – 18% of patients say finding ways to save money on prescription medications is a challenge, and 36% are likely to use support services from pharma to help with doing so. However, 37% are unaware of any prescription drug savings programs provided by a pharma company
Telehealth is becoming more widely-accepted
Telehealth use by patients:

Patients are growing more comfortable with telehealth as a result. Over half of telehealth users agreed that "I was hesitant about using virtual patient consults at first, but I am planning to use it more often after trying it out." Users cited convenience factors such as time saved (cited by 48%) and not needing transportation (47%) as plusses.

Of interest to pharmas, top use cases for virtual consults cited by patients include prescription renewals and requesting a prescription to treat new symptoms.

Reasons to use telehealth:
As patients spend more time inside, online info-seeking spikes
U.S. patients are very proactive in their treatment decision-making.
55%
say they are very involved in treatment decisions

31%
say they have asked their doctor to prescribe a specific drug

86% of the time, their request was granted

These requests are heavily informed by friend and family recommendations, search (46% of U.S. adults have searched for Rx drug info online in the past 12 months), general health websites and TV ads.
Top health topics researched:
(ranked by difference year over year)
With so many of us spending much more time at home in front of screens, whether taking Zoom calls or watching Netflix, it’s not surprising that advertising exposures for medications have increased.
Nearly 2 in 3 U.S. adults (63%) recall seeing ads for prescription drugs in the past 6 months – up from 55% in 2019.
50%
recall seeing TV ads

33%
online ads

Since 56% of those who recall seeing online ads research a medication online before asking their doctor, reaching patients with high-quality, accurate information about conditions and treatments when they’re in this online info-seeking mode is mission-critical for pharmas. With so much health information online – much of it less credible – it serves a critical need for patients, 56% of whom agree that “There’s so much information online it’s hard to know what to trust.”