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The healthcare industry is evolving. A doctor’s visit today doesn’t always involve travel, spending time in a waiting room, and face-to-face interaction. Digital technology has transformed primary care beyond the in-person office visits we’re accustomed to. Virtual care — whether via phone, computer, or other connected devices — offers faster, more convenient access to providers. It gives people the flexibility to connect to care, when and where they prefer.

Elevance Health commissioned The Harris Poll to conduct the Virtual Primary Care study1 to showcase how consumers view virtual primary care as an option for their care as well as drive awareness of virtual care. Through this research, we saw about a third of people in the U.S. (32%) have ever used virtual primary care (VPC) and 94% of those who have done so say they’re satisfied with their VPC experience. VPC users also feel empowered; nearly four in five (79%) say VPC has helped them to take charge of their health.

Recognizing telehealth use surged during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and remains much higher than pre-pandemic levels, we’re looking ahead and digging deeper. 

More Digital Time with Providers

The healthcare industry is ever changing and with it may come a shift towards more digital means of care and communication with providers. Among people surveyed who have a primary healthcare provider:

  • 2 in 5 (41%) wish their provider used more digital forms of communication such as text messages and emails
  • 71% would use a mobile texting app to chat with a primary care provider in real-time if they had access to it

People surveyed see their healthcare providers frequently — with a majority (83%) reporting they do so yearly or more often. However, they want more time with their provider outside of appointments. Provider availability in general, including outside of regular hours, may be hindering people’s ability to seek care as often as they need. In fact, our research showed those who have a primary healthcare provider, 21% say only being able to see the provider during office hours prevents them from seeing the provider as often as they need. Introducing more digital forms of communication, such as VPC, text messages, and email might help close the communication gap between patients and providers.

Managing Whole Health Through Digital

VPC can be utilized to manage a diverse set of healthcare needs, including mental health services, diagnostic visits, nutritional consultations, and physical/occupational therapy sessions. Most people report they would be interested in using VPC for a prescription refill (76%), referral to a specialist (72%), and obtaining a new prescription (71%). Sixty-eight percent would use VPC to establish a treatment plan for a minor health issue. 

There’s also high interest in using VPC for quickly addressing a new acute or urgent medical problem (61%), addressing urgent issues or flare-ups associated with chronic conditions (58%), and getting preventative care (58%).

We found that people with chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, and arthritis, for example, are more likely than those without a chronic health condition to be familiar with VPC (52% vs. 42%). And people with chronic conditions are also more likely than their counterparts to have ever used VPC (36% vs. 25%). Specifically, the survey found a difference in how people with chronic health conditions vs. without chronic conditions have ever used VPC:

  • Prescriptions (19% vs. 12%)
  • General wellness/treatment plans (10% vs. 7%)
  • Addressing a non-urgent medical problem (8% vs. 5%)
  • Quickly addressing a new acute or urgent medical problem (7% vs. 5%)
  • Getting a referral to a specialist (6% vs. 4%)
  • Addressing urgent issues or flare-ups associated with chronic conditions (6% vs. 3%)
  • Managing chronic conditions (5% vs. 2%)

The Digital Platform Approach

It’s clear from our research that people want the ability to use more digital methods to manage their health. More than half (52%) of people surveyed said they are likely to use VPC, in addition to the care they receive from their current primary health care provider, for primary care appointments within the next year.

People expect a customized and seamless healthcare experience, with access to simple and convenient digital options. Our digital platform for health gives people greater flexibility in care, by bringing tools, resources, and information together in one place. We’re ensuring people can easily access and engage with a spectrum of connected services to manage their health how they prefer, including digital, virtual, in-home, and traditional in-person care.


Virtual primary care is a key component of our digital platform approach and we’re evolving each day to provide preferred services and meet increasing demand. A majority of those surveyed believe the healthcare system is changing for the better with the inclusion of VPC (71%). And while it played a key role during the pandemic, many think it may stand the test of time – more than four in five who have used VPC feel it has been very useful and plan to continue using it as pandemic conditions improve (84%).

With the top desires — convenience and accessibility — in the forefront, we’re building on our commitment to creating a simplified healthcare experience centered around people to improve health.



1Virtual Primary Care Study: Research was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of Elevance Health among 5,009 adults age 18+. The survey was conducted March 3-21, 2022 

This article was originally published on Fierce Healthcare via

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