The abrupt arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown in March 2020 resulted in an almost overnight transition to online work for many Canadians. The healthcare industry was no exception with family doctors seeing patients via phone calls and video chats, and in-person appointments relegated to overcapacity walk-in clinics and emergency rooms. Simultaneously, Canadians were taking advantage of remote working conditions and moving out of urban centers, creating an influx of new patients in small towns and rural areas.
Thus, by the summer of 2020, 71% of primary care visits in Ontario had moved online, and millions of people across Canada remained on wait lists for primary physicians. All of these factors paved the way for the rapid expansion of a virtual healthcare model, as telemedicine infrastructure from Canada’s north was adapted into pilot programs across the country that offered primary care or emergency services via online apps. By 2023, almost all provinces and territories had adopted virtual care models, allowing Canadians to access more modern healthcare services on par with our international peers.
Now, despite our return to offices, our appetite for virtual care has not diminished. Indeed, according to projections by EMR, the global telemedicine market is expected to grow from $73.1 billion USD in 2022 to $377 billion by 2031. However, a number of challenges need to be overcome before there can be widespread, effective, and equitable adoption of virtual healthcare services in Canada. A review of provincial and territorial initiatives found that digital literacy remains an issue for both physicians and patients trying to access online services, and many Canadians do not have access to the technology needed for video streaming. Further, Kantar’s Global Drivers of Change found that with the migration of our personal health data online comes rising personal privacy concerns.
So, what does this mean for healthcare brands?
Earning and keeping consumer trust is paramount. The contemporaneous expansion of virtual health services, medical genetics, wearable technology, and AI mean that the technology needed to advance healthcare is in place, but we need to be mindful of justified consumer concerns about how personal health data is used and stored.
Stay ahead of trends. Consumer demand for preventative medicine remains above pre-pandemic levels and the role of telemedicine is accelerating globally. Consider what role your brand can play in the future of health and wellness.
Look to solve consumer pain points before your competitors. Are your services accessible and easy to use? Do they offer an innovative approach to health management, prevention, or treatment that is not yet readily available?
Learn more about how you Kantar MONITOR can help you stay ahead of market trends with future-focused thought leadership on important shifts in the consumer marketplace.