COVID-19 changed nearly everything about American society, but the largest seismic shifts have occurred in the e-commerce and telehealth spaces.
As a result of millions of professionals working from home full-time, online sales grew by 44% in 2020 as more and more consumers had to get comfortable making nearly all purchases online. Many analysts agree that these trends are not short-term, but the shift to online purchasing behavior is here for the long haul.
On the other hand, telehealth is another beneficiary from the shift to remote work — online health care visits were up 154% early in 2020, and nearly half of Americans desire to see their providers online. As more and more providers look to service this nascent online segment, we're already seeing innovative takes on how vision care joining the online provider fray can further disrupt the industry at large — and benefit employers and employees alike.
Let’s take a closer look at why online vision care is set to be the next “big thing” in health care (and how you can leverage it to ensure your vision benefits see peak usage).
Safety Is The Short-Term Goal, Comfort The Long-Term
COVID-19’s impact on workforce health and safety can’t be overstated: the pandemic forced many industries to reimagine their service offerings to prioritize safety and minimize the spread of the virus, especially in health care. By removing in-person visits to the doctor, telehealth patients had greater access and equity to their employer-provided benefits, and much more satisfaction as a result: 89% of patients said they’d recommend their provider after a telehealth visit.
When it comes to vision care, despite low benefits usage, Americans see the value: 81% of those recently surveyed understood the benefits of receiving an eye exam. Increasing online access to eye doctors as we have with other types of primary care not only will benefit usage growth, but research suggests patient comfort will benefit as well. It’s a win-win.
Workers Want More Access To Vision Care But Crave Lower Costs
We’ve already covered the fact that only 13% of employees say they visit their eye doctor for routine care, despite 84% acknowledging the connection between preventive eye care and early disease protection. Why?
It all comes down to costs.
Usually, with only traditional vision plans at their disposal, most Americans simply can’t afford to make routine eye exams and new glasses part of their family’s yearly health routine. In fact, 61% of Americans say reducing healthcare costs is a top priority. Only half (54%) of people with children under 18 years old in their household say those children have seen an eye doctor in the past two years, compared to 85% of people over 60.
Most Workers Under 40 Are Ready For Virtual Eyecare
Millennials have a reputation for being “industry killers,” which at times is a convenient punchline, but the trendlines for telemedicine aren’t a laughing matter: Nearly 3 out of 4 workers under 40 say having access to technology and tools for virtual visits would make them more likely to schedule a routine eye exam. We already know that this kind of preventive health care keeps workers healthy, productive, and happy.
But it’s not only millennials paying attention to the new virtual health care landscape. Three-fourths of health plan executives believe members’ use of alternatives to face-to-face contact with eye doctors will increase substantially or somewhat as a result of the pandemic. Ensuring access to high-quality, online vision care and eyeglass buying is essential to address these growing demands.
Online Eyeglass Buying And Customization Are Here To Stay
As the prolific decline of brick and mortar retail continues, all industries feel the heat to adapt and evolve. But why have so few players offered an online eyeglass buying experience that meets growing consumer demand?
With consumers more comfortable than ever buying online, many expect more flexibility and customization, so it’s no wonder that nearly 40% of online consumers want to “try before they buy,” and eyeglass purchasing is no exception.
The explosion in telehealth services and the continual growth of e-commerce both point to long-lasting paradigm shifts for American workers. As a larger segment of the workforce shifts to more remote work, more flexible and innovative vision benefits will help employers attract and retain top talent, but also cut costs and boost benefit usage.
Antonio Moraes is CEO and cofounder at XP Health. He may be contacted at [email protected].
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