Patients Want More Virtual Care Options, Consumer Survey Finds

Samara Rosenfeld
MAY 21, 2019
virtual care
Photo/Thumb have been modified. Licensed by CC0 Public Domain.

Although 83% of consumers are not using telehealth, almost 72% would like to be able to request a virtual visit rather than going for a traditional office visit, according to the findings of a survey conducted by researchers at Vivify Health.
 
The inquiry found that only 17% of consumers have access to virtual care services. But almost 71% of the respondents indicated that being able to request a virtual visit would improve their opinion and loyalty towards their provider’s office. And 68% believe that allowing physicians to manage their care virtually will help improve their health conditions.

“Scheduling a virtual visit is great for extending the reach of episodic care,” said Eric Rock, CEO of Vivify Health. “But what consumers need is continual care. Much of what happens in a physician’s office, such as taking vital signs or looking into visible symptoms, could be handled just as well virtually and on a daily basis.”
 
The findings of the consumer-focused survey represent the views of 200 U.S. individuals — and some did not answer every question. Individuals aged 25 to 44 years old comprised nearly 50% of the respondents, while 23% represented people older than 54. The diverse sample set reveals that the desire to use remote care does not represent the views of just the younger patient population.
 
A majority of respondents (77%) said they would be open to managing their care over the internet if their physician recommended it. Of those who said they do not want to manage their care online, almost 45% said they prefer face-to-face interaction, while 26% cited privacy concerns.
 
Almost 74% said that managing their care virtually would help them follow their doctor’s plan more closely. And 72% said that virtual care will help their doctor treat them effectively, so they can spend less time traveling.
 
Just over half of the respondents already use a device to check or access their medical, lab or diagnostic information.
 
The results signal promise in telemedicine services, an area that is already seeing increased adoption by physicians.
 
Patients say they want to use virtual care to interact with physicians. But it’s up to healthcare executives to implement technologies and improve outcomes.
 
“What is abundantly clear from the survey is that there is a huge pent-up demand for virtual care among consumers,” Rock said. “By making the medical home the patient’s actual home when it’s appropriate, we can elevate the level of care, catch developing issues earlier and do a better job of keeping patients healthier.”
 
Not only are health systems looking for ways to implement these solutions — so are government agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
 
Last month, CMS finalized policies to bring telehealth benefits to Medicare Advantage plans to allow beneficiaries to access additional benefits in 2020.

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