Pandemic Effect: Telemedicine Is Now a 'Must-Have' Service

Richard Franki

August 14, 2020

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

If people try telemedicine, they'll like telemedicine. And if they want to avoid a doctor's office, as most people do these days, they'll try telemedicine. That is the message coming from 1,000 people surveyed for DocASAP, a provider of online patient access and engagement systems.

 

Here are a couple of numbers: 92% of those who made a telemedicine visit said they were satisfied with the overall appointment experience, and 91% said that they are more likely to schedule a telemedicine visit instead of an in-person appointment. All of the survey respondents had visited a health care provider in the past year, and 40% already had made a telemedicine visit, DocASAP reported.

"Telehealth has quickly emerged as the preferred care setting during the pandemic and will drive patient behavior in the future," Puneet Maheshwari, DocASAP cofounder and CEO, said in a statement. "As providers continue to adopt innovative technology to power a more seamless, end-to-end digital consumer experience, I expect telehealth to become fully integrated into overall care management."

For now, though, COVID-19 is an overriding concern and health care facilities are suspect. When respondents were asked to identify the types of public facilities where they felt safe, hospitals were named by 32%, doctors' offices by 26%, and ED/urgent care by just 12%, the DocASAP report said. Even public transportation got 13%.

The safest place to be, according to 42% of the respondents? The grocery store.

Of those surveyed, 43% "indicated they will not feel safe entering any health care setting until at least the fall," the company said. An even higher share of patients, 68%, canceled or postponed an in-person appointment during the pandemic.

"No longer are remote health services viewed as 'nice to have' – they are now a must-have care delivery option," DocASAP said in their report.

Safety concerns involving COVID-19, named by 47% of the sample, were the leading factor that would influence patients' decision to schedule a telemedicine visit. Insurance coverage was next at 43%, followed by "ease of accessing quality care" at 40%, the report said.

Among those who had made a telemedicine visit, scheduling the appointment was the most satisfying aspect of the experience, according to 54% of respondents, with day-of-appointment wait time next at 38% and quality of the video/audio technology tied with preappointment communication at almost 33%, the survey data show.

Conversely, scheduling the appointment also was declared the most frustrating aspect of the telemedicine experience, although the total in that category was a much lower 29%.

"The pandemic has thrust profound change on every aspect of life, particularly health care. … Innovations – like digital and telehealth solutions – designed to meet patient needs will likely become embedded into the health care delivery system," DocASAP said.

The survey was commissioned by DocASAP and conducted by marketing research company OnePoll on June 29-30, 2020.

This article originally appeared on MDedge.com.

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