Doctors take note: Your patients are becoming more and more interested in the option of a telemedicine visit and are more willing to switch doctors to find a practice that offers them. That’s according to a new survey by telemedicine provider American Well and Harris Poll. The Survey outlines just how much patient perspectives on telehealth are changing.
Patients are Delaying the Care They Need
The survey found 67 percent of consumers have delayed care because of excessive cost (23 percent), difficulty in scheduling a visit with a doctor or nurse (23 percent), hope that the problem will resolve itself (36 percent), or they’re just too busy (13 percent).
These delays not only result in insufficient or non-existent care for health issues when they occur, but also potentially exacerbate minor problems down the road because the consumer misses reminders about vaccinations, preventative exams or flu shots.
“Delaying care for serious health concerns can have costly ramifications for the patient and the healthcare provider – with fewer, often far more expensive treatment choices available when diagnosis is delayed,” the survey states.
Video Visits Are a Viable Option
Two-thirds of consumers are willing to see a doctor via video if the service is available, the survey found. Factors driving this trend may include the time it takes to get an in-office appointment with a healthcare provider, which The Washington Post reports can average more than 18 days from the time an appointment is made.
According to a Harvard University report, the average time for an in-office visit is two hours, including travel and wait time, with only 20 minutes of that time spent seeing the doctor. When offered the option of a video visit, the majority of adults surveyed (69 percent) said they would prefer that option.
In addition, results from surveys of American Well’s telehealth service showed that of those patients who used a telemedicine doctor’s visit, they felt their healthcare needs were met 85 percent of the time, compared to 64 percent for those who visited doctors in person.
Consumers Recognize the Potential for Telehealth
When it comes to a variety of diagnostic, health management and follow up visits, consumers show that they’re increasingly willing to conduct those visits via video, according to the survey. Of those with chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, 60 percent responded in favor of using telemedicine for regular doctor check-ins.
Customers also expressed enthusiasm for the option of video visits for post-surgical or hospital stay follow-ups, middle-of-the-night care, elderly care, prescription and birth control pill refills. In all of these cases, convenience and time savings are maximized for the consumer, and in the case of off-hours care and elderly visits, there are significant cost and safety benefits, the survey notes.
The survey concludes that for primary care providers, health systems, employers and insurers, there are growing benefits to offering telehealth visits as an option. Those include lower costs, greater patient convenience, improved patient outcomes and increased customer satisfaction.