Few consumers have used telehealth to access care

Despite rising investment in the technology, only 18 percent of respondents to one survey have used it.

Hospitals and healthcare delivery systems see telehealth as one way to facilitate treatment, and make it quicker and faster for patients. However, patients may not be embracing the concept as rapidly as they would like.

A recent survey finds that provider organizations are making commitments to provide services via telehealth—they’ve made substantial investments in infrastructure, training and process re-engineering.

But the survey, found that eight out of every 10 consumers are generally unaware of how to access medical care via telehealth, or that their insurer will cover the cost.

For telehealth delivery of care to advance, patients need more guidance and education to increase adoption more broadly, concludes the research, sponsored by Avizia, a company that provides telehealth products. Data was gathered for the research by querying consumers as well as healthcare organizations providing telehealth services.

“Health systems are investing in telehealth, even as uptick is slow among consumers, because they understand the potential of the technology to impact patient care in a profound way,” says Mike Baird, CEO of Avizia. “As technology advances and health system priorities shift, we expect to see a greater number of hospitals seeking new ways to leverage telehealth on a system-wide level to support the shift to value-based care.”

Among the findings of the survey:
  • Only 18 percent of consumers said they had used telehealth, while 82 percent had not.
  • In rating the benefits of telehealth services, consumers who had received virtual care said they appreciated time savings and convenience (59 percent); faster service and shorter wait times to see the doctor (55 percent); and cost savings because of less travel (43 percent).
  • Providers are most interested in telehealth’s ability to expand access or reach to patients (72 percent), but flagged reimbursement as a barrier to implementation (41 percent), followed by program cost (40 percent) and clinician resistance (22 percent).

More information about the findings can be accessed here.

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