New Survey Shows COVID Has Been a Wake-Up Call

4 Surprising Takeaways From Rally’s New Survey

By Kate Rockwood | October 15, 2020 | Rally Health


Whether or not you or someone you know has had COVID-19, the virus has touched all of our lives in profound and personal ways. Rally Health’s new Preventive Care in America Survey asked Americans about their health care and found that the public is adapting to a changing health care landscape.

Rally Health surveyed more than 4,000 adult Americans, with help from the independent research firm Edelman Intelligence, and found that COVID-19 has dramatically reshaped our relationship to our health and health care. Here are some of the biggest findings:

The Impact of COVID-19

Covid 19 virus

Americans are more aware of their health

As scientists and researchers have raced to make sense of COVID-19, it was clear from the start that it didn’t impact all people the same. Those with certain conditions, such as obesity or heart disease, are more likely to experience a severe case and face complications. For some people, that threat has made them more proactive about adopting healthy habits.

Almost half of the respondents say they’re focussing on their health more than ever before: 24% are eating better, 21% are exercising regularly, and 21% are focusing on their mental health. Among those who have taken steps to focus on their health, 43% say they’re more satisfied with their life than they were before, compared to just 21% of those who haven't taken such steps.

Health Boost: Whether it’s quitting smoking, lowering A1C levels or losing weight, health goals aren’t achieved overnight. Even small lifestyle changes can have a big impact on health outcomes. For example, research shows that losing 5% of your body weight (that would be 10 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds) is likely to improve health outcomes, like lower blood cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. Rather than think of healthy habits as all-or-nothing endeavors, pick one manageable step to focus on and celebrate your progress.

But they’re putting off that appointment

When COVID-19 sent a ripple of stay-at-home orders across the nation last spring, many people put off or rescheduled their doctor’s appointments. Those anxieties about returning to the doctor’s office haven't fully lifted. In fact, 41% of Americans say they’re worried about visiting a health care provider for fear of contracting or spreading COVID, and 38% plan to avoid non-emergency health care providers until COVID-19 is under control. For more than one-third of Americans, that’s already resulted in missed screenings, appointments, and planned procedures.

Health Boost: Pressing pause for too long on health care appointments can be risky, too. Your doctor can help you best manage chronic conditions, encourage you to follow through on recommended screenings (remember, the earlier a serious medical issue is spotted, the better), and address any health questions or concerns you have as soon as they crop up.

There are easy, effective ways to make an in-person appointment less risky — such as wearing a mask, practicing social distancing in the waiting room, packing hand sanitizer, and limiting who else comes with you to the appointment. Try calling your provider’s office in advance to ask what precautions they’re taking and what other recommendations they might have to limit your exposure. Who is better prepared to implement COVID precautions than medical professionals? Also keep in mind that not all appointments require you to leave your house: Virtual visits are now much more commonplace, and even if your doctor didn’t offer a telehealth option before, they may have one now.

The State of Preventive Care

Preventive Care
Preventive Care

America’s sense of prevention can be a little…fuzzy

First, the good news: Nearly four out of five people visit their primary care physician at least once a year. Yet fewer seem to see prevention as much more than getting an annual checkup. Only about half of respondents say they have a generally healthy lifestyle, sleep routine, and good eating habits. And only 42% report that they exercise regularly.

That knowledge gap is especially wide among younger people, with 47% of Gen Z and 46% of millennials saying they feel overwhelmed even thinking about preventive care.

Health Boost: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is an age-old adage that still rings true. Yes, an annual checkup can be an essential step in preventive care, but it’s hardly the only step. Take, for instance, screenings: Your doctor might suggest certain screenings for cancer, diabetes, or heart disease at your annual visit, to prevent or catch a condition as early as possible. That’s an important aspect of prevention but it doesn’t stop there. Lifestyle factors can help prevent or delay these illnesses before they even occur.

Taking a more holistic approach to prevention — such as eating well, exercising regularly, sticking to a good sleep routine and managing stress levels — might help prevent disease altogether. That’s the best form of prevention.

The Future of Health Care

Health Care
Health Care

America has embraced digital health — and it’s working

At a time when in-person interactions can feel risky, it’s not surprising that virtual health visits are becoming more commonplace. More than a third of survey respondents say they scheduled their first telehealth appointment as a result of COVID-19, and 44% say they’re more willing to have virtual appointments than they were before.

This trend isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon: 1 in 3 Americans intend to stick with virtual visits, even after the pandemic is over. That’s likely driven, in part, by the greater convenience and ease that telehealth can provide. And our survey found that those who embraced telehealth felt more optimistic and in control of their health.

Health Boost: This may be a good time to give virtual visits a try — especially for non-urgent issues that you’ve been putting off because of the pandemic. If you’re new to telehealth, start by talking to your provider’s office to see if they offer a virtual portal or platform and how to get signed up. There are certainly situations that demand an in-person visit (whenever you need an X-ray, or diagnostic test, for example), but your doctor’s office should be able to help you decide if a virtual visit is appropriate.

It’s clear that COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on how Americans think about and approach their health and health care. And we will need to stay vigilant for a while. But for all the uncertainty and anxiety, our survey found there are bright spots, too. People seem to be more proactive about their health and are embracing new digital tools to make it happen. Despite all the challenges and concerns, that’s a silver lining worth applauding.


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