Telehealth increasingly seen as criteria for choosing primary doc, study finds

Dive Brief:

  • Twenty percent of consumers would switch primary care providers to gain access to telehealth services, according to a survey from American Well.
  • According to the company, 50 million Americans said they would choose another PCP if they offered remote visits — up from 17 million in 2015. The company illuminated how it got that figure: "323 million (U.S. Population, U.S. Census Bureau, 2016) x 77% (U.S. Adult Population, U.S. Census Bureau, 2016) x 20% (Consumers with a PCP who would switch PCP for video visits, American Well 2017 Consumer Survey)."
  • Of survey respondents who have a PCP, 65% expressed interest in video visits.

Dive Insight:

Most willing to switch doctors were parents of children under age 18 and 35 to 44 year olds, the survey shows. Moreover, 79% of consumers caring for an ill or aging family member felt video services would be helpful.

Interest in using telehealth for chronic conditions was especially strong, with 60% of consumers saying they would see a doctor online to manage a chronic medical problem. Interest rose to 67% in the 45 to 64 age group.

Other findings from the survey:

  • 52% of consumers are interested in video visits for post-surgical or inpatient follow-up;
  • 20% of consumers would prefer video visits for middle of the night care;
  • 78% of consumers willing to see their doctor via video want to use the service to fill prescriptions; and
  • Half of women age 18 to 34 and over half of those age 35 to 44 want to get birth control via video doctor visits.

Payers, too, are recognizing telehealth’s potential for enhancing access and care while containing costs. In its 2017 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule final rule, CMS expanded the list of telehealth-eligible services under the Physician Prospective to include end-stage renal disease-related services for dialysis, advance care planning services and certain critical care consultations provided via telehealth.

The 2015 Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act singles out telemedicine and remote patient monitoring as services that alternative payment models may cover.

Filed Under: Health IT Payer Practice Management
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