Rising demand by consumers for virtual healthcare services is putting more pressure on providers and payers to expand delivery options for on-demand health services.
A survey of 1,501 consumers commissioned by Accenture found that most respondents say they are willing to use a wide range of virtual health services.
For example, about three-quarters of all respondents said they would use virtual services to track health indicators, such as blood pressure, pulse and glucose levels (77 percent of respondents); for follow-up appointments (76 percent); or to be examined for non-urgent health issues, such as a rash or a sore throat (70 percent).
However, despite that rising interest, only one in five respondents (21 percent) said they have actually received health services virtually.
For those who have received care virtually, the reasons they cited most often for seeking virtual care are greater convenience than traditional in-person healthcare services (37 percent); familiarity using technology to manage their health (34 percent); and curiosity to try virtual health (34 percent).
Provider endorsement of the technology is crucial, they note. Consumers said they would be more likely to try virtual care if encouraged by a physician (cited by 44 percent) or a healthcare payer (31 percent).
“Technology-enabled services will be equally important as traditional in-person services, allowing the modern patient to choose when and how they receive health and care services,” said Frances Dare, managing director of Accenture’s virtual health services.
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Dare adds that consumers now are looking for their care to be delivered in a variety of ways, so that it’s convenient for them. In fact, more than three-quarters (78 percent) of those surveyed said they would be interested in receiving healthcare virtually some or most of the time. Findings suggest that health systems need to balance and integrate virtual and in-person services so consumers perceive that they are in charge of their own health, both today (cited by 85 percent) and if they become ill or injured (51 percent).
“Given evolving consumer attitudes toward virtual care, making virtual health a priority could be a boon for provider organizations that are resource- and finance-constrained,” Dare said. “As more and more patients take control of their own healthcare in the age of consumerism, provider organizations must be able to offer meaningful choices for virtual care, in-person care and a combination of both.”
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