While the “in-person” visit to a doctor or medical professional continues to rank first as consumers’ most-trusted information source, the virtual doc or clinician rose in trust during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Euromonitor’s latest read on Consumer Health: Changes in Consumer Behaviour during COVID-19 .

The first four most-trusted sources for health information in 2021 remained the same short-list from 2020: doctors in-person, pharmacists, nutritionists and dieticians, and government or NGOs. But fifth place slipped from family and friends to the pharma industry, and sixth in line went to virtual doctors or medical professionals rising from 9th place in the health care trust line to 6th.

Family and friends dropped from 5th place to seventh, product labels fell from 7th to 8th place in trust, and Fitness trainers or coaches declined from 8th place to 10th — perhaps a sign that we were less dependent on the traditional in-person fitness trainer in the physically-distanced pandemic compared with our 2020 normal exercise routines.

Euromonitor has been tracking consumer behavior across all kinds of our daily life- and work-flows, tracking COVID-19’s impact on medical care in the second chart. In 2021, one-in-five health citizens said they still did not want to be exposed to a contagious disease, keeping people from an in-person medical visit. Similarly, one-fifth of people said they have fear or anxiety in seeking a traditional medical visit, and one-fifth do not have enough time to seek care in-person.

In 2021 overall, over 40% of U.S. adults told Euromonitor they were very or extremely comfortable receiving medical advice online, up from about 35% in 2020. Similarly, 42% of global health citizens were very or extremely comfortable with consulting a therapist online or via a mobile health app for mental health counsel and support.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  One of the most unique and powerful findings from this study is illustrated in the third bar chart from the study: that consumers’ health concerns across-the-board increased in 2020, our Year of COVID. Eye and vision issues, stress and anxiety, sleep, gut, joint and muscle pain, headaches, weight and obesity, and allergies, all took on greater importance in 2021 compared with 2020. Around one-third to nearly 40% of all health citizens were concerned about these health issues a year into the pandemic.

Euromonitor uncovered another important data point in the 2021 health and nutrition survey — that two-thirds of consumers define “being healthy” pointing to mental wellbeing and having a healthy immune system — roughly “tied” at 64% and 63% of people citing mental health and immunity as core to “being healthy.”

Six in ten consumers also say that “feeling good,” “getting enough sleep,” and “the absence of disease” mean being healthy, too.

In prescribing actionable steps the health care industry can take to engage global citizens in their health and well-being, Euromonitor points to them offering tangible, accessible, and relevant value propositions. Top-line, industry stakeholders should support the concept of the home as a wellness hub, Euromonitor recommends, including remote health access, management, fitness, and other at-home rituals that can “mimic” the out-of-home health care experience. The company also calls out the digital divide where it exists, to ensure including diverse people in business plans and health care innovations.

The bottom-line is to “humanise digitally-enabled solutions,” Euromonitor asserts, putting human connections and communication at the center of digital health endeavors and going digital-first when it makes sense.