Physicians Increasingly Open to Video Consultations

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A nationwide survey of more than 2,000 primary care doctors found that 57 percent of physicians are willing to conduct video visits with their patients.

Just 12 percent of respondents are unwilling to see a patient over video and 31 percent remain uncertain. In the online survey conducted by telehealth vendor American Well, physicians cited work-life balance as the most popular reason for seeing patients over video, followed by increased earning opportunity, and improved patient outcomes.

When it comes to technology platforms, 69 percent of doctors indicated that video is superior to phone or email communication for making accurate diagnoses for new patient consults. Only 5 percent of those surveyed said email was best for diagnosis and just 1 percent said text was best.

New research from market intelligence firm Tractica predicts telehealth video consultation sessions—also referred to as eConsults and eVisits—will increase from 19.7 million in 2014 to 158.4 million per year by 2020.

Also See: Telehealth Poised for Huge Growth, Analysts Say

“There’s a sea change going on within the physician community,” commented Roy Schoenberg, M.D., CEO of American Well. “Doctors see value in virtual visits for their patients and also in managing their own work-life balance.”

Besides urgent care, the survey found that physicians envision many clinical applications for video visits: 86 percent view video consults as appropriate for medication management/prescription renewals; 80 percent believe they are appropriate for chronic condition management; and 70 percent see value for behavioral health.

In addition, 60 percent of physicians surveyed said that if a nearby hospital offered them the opportunity to consult with specialists via video, it would increase their likelihood of referring patients to that hospital. For peer clinical consults, primary care doctors in the survey indicated that dermatology, psychiatry, infectious disease, pain management, and neurology were the top specialty consults that they desired.

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