Survey Says: Patients Want Telehealth

It’s official. The people have spoken, and they want access to telehealth services. Or at least the respondents to one survey of consumers do. As PatientEngagementHIT first reported, the Advisory Board Company’s Virtual Visits Consumer Choice Survey found that 77 percent of people would be willing to have a health care provider visit via telehealth. What’s more, the survey of 5,000 patients also found that 19 percent of patients had already had a virtual visit. The results, the researchers assert, translate into new opportunities for providers and health care organizations: “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,” the Advisory Board’s Emily Zuehlke explained in a press release accompanying the study’s findings.

These days, the survey’s authors noted, the overwhelming patient preference is for their health care providers to be as tech-savvy as they are. “Across industries, consumers have become accustomed to using virtual technology for both real-time and asynchronous interactions,” Tom Cassels, a national strategy partner at the Advisory Board, said in the company’s press release. “Health care providers can no longer wait to catch up.” The respondents’ high comfort level with technology could also be seen in their answers to survey questions about the types of telehealth visits they would prefer to have with providers, with respondents indicating that they’d be comfortable having a wide range of virtual consultations. Among the options: psychology visits, pre- and post-surgery check-ins, and prescription-related consults. “Many interested over 70 percent of respondents,” the researchers noted.

Respondents did have some concerns about using these new technologies to connect with their health care providers. Indeed, all but nine percent of respondents said that they were worried about certain aspects of telehealth visits, with the potential for reduced quality of care and the possibility of incorrect diagnosis topping the list of commonly cited concerns. Still, the Advisory Board team is optimistic about the continuing trend toward virtual care, and, as other researchers have expressed, they believe it presents new opportunities to empower patients to play a more active role in their own health care. The survey’s findings echo those of a recent study demonstrating health care organizations’ desire to invest in telehealth and remote monitoring. As we reported back in April, an American Telemedicine Association (ATA) survey of 171 health care executives found that an overwhelming 83 percent of health care organizations have plans to invest in telehealth and mHealth in the next year. Only one percent of respondents had no plans to do so at any point in the future.

Click here to read the article from PatientEngagementHIT on the Advisory Board study.

Click here to read the Advisory Board press release on the study results.

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