Americans are beginning to change the way they access healthcare, according to new research by management consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

Disappointed with their current level of care and frustrated by the high costs, the Wyman study indicates that consumers are increasingly turning away from traditional delivery models in favor of alternatives, such as telemedicine and retail clinics like those operated by Walmart and CVS.

Bloomberg/file photo

From 2010 to 2015, telemedicine spending increased from $540 million to $1.9 billion, per the Wyman study. Retail clinic usage climbed 176% to 19 million visits and urgent care center usage increased by 5.8% annually. In 2013, 15% of the survey respondents used a retail clinic compared with 26% in 2015.

Current healthcare underwhelms

Wyman’s researchers also report that Americans aren’t thrilled with our current healthcare system. Favorable perceptions of U.S. healthcare stand at 64%, and 79% of respondents found the care at a retail clinic to be as good or better than a traditional doctor’s office. These results were fairly consistent across different ages, incomes and health levels.

The high cost of healthcare was also a concern for 50% of the survey respondents. The implication here is that in this respect the interest of employers and their employees are aligned. While breaking long-standing habits is hard, and much more needs to happen to achieve a more profound shift in how consumers purchase their healthcare, a good place to start is for plan sponsors to promote the lower costs and faster, more convenient service provided by retail clinics and telemed services.

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