Report: Telehealth use not keeping pace with interest
- While most Americans say they would consider using telehealth services, not many have actually had a virtual visit, a new Advisory Board survey shows.
- Of the nearly 5,000 respondents to the Virtual Visits Consumer Choice Survey, 77% said they are open to virtual care solutions but only 19% had already used it.
- Consumers voiced concerns about virtual visits, the chief one being care quality (21%). The next most common concern was that the doctor wouldn’t be able to diagnose them and they would have to go to a clinic anyway (19%). Just 9% of respondents reported no concerns with virtual care.
The survey suggests that while U.S. patients are ready to try telehealth, providers have yet to fully embrace the option.
“Direct-to-consumer virtual specialty and chronic care are largely untapped frontiers,” Advisory Board research consultant Emily Zuehlke said in a statement. “As consumers increasingly shop for convenient, affordable health care — and as payers’ interest in low-cost access continues to grow — this survey suggests that consumers are likely to reward those who offer virtual visits for specialty and chronic care.”
Direct-to-consumer telehealth services has the potential to expand access and improve patient outcomes, particularly in the area of population health management. They can also drive down costs as a recent shows as a recent NTCA – Rural Broadband Association analysis shows.
In that study, telehealth services were associated with an annual per-hospital savings of $20,841, but that could exceed $100,000 for some rural hospitals. They also saved $5,718 in travel expenses and $3,341 in lost wages for patients.
Venture funding for digital health was strong in the first quarter of 2017, totaling $1.6 billion in 165 deals, according to Mercom Capital Group. Of that, $112 million was invested in telehealth solutions.
Many healthcare organizations have been lining up to offer telehealth services. More than half of all Kaiser Permanente members’ physician encounters took place remotely. Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson has attributed the shift from in-office to virtual visits to the organization’s heavy investment in technology — about one-fourth of its $3.8 billion yearly capital spend is on IT.
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