Telehealth has scored a major victory by way of a brand-new study showing the majority of American adults prefer telehealth over traditional in-person care. The America’s Health Insurance Plan (AHIP) survey adds to a growing body of evidence proving that patients are all-in with telehealth.
It should be noted that telehealth is not limited to remote doctor visits. Telehealth incorporates the entirety of healthcare administration and deployment by way of digital technologies. When we talk specifically of delivering services, that’s telemedicine.
What the Survey Revealed
Explicit definitions aside, the AHIP survey revealed a lot about what Americans think of telehealth and telemedicine. The survey was conducted among 1,000 adults, nearly half of which had employer-sponsored health plans or individual market coverage.
Here are the survey’s most important findings:
- 69% said they prefer telehealth over in-person care
- 78% said telehealth made healthcare access easier
- 85% said they there are enough telehealth providers to meet their needs
- 73% said that pre-deductible telehealth coverage should be included in health insurance plans.
Among the survey respondents, 40% had used telehealth once during the prior year. Likewise, 53% said they had used it between two and five times during the previous year. That means just 7% had no real-world experience with telehealth.
Convenience Was the Most Important Factor
AHIP made a point of asking patients their reasons for preferring telehealth. Not surprisingly, the number one factor was convenience. That lines up with other studies in which patients have reported finding telemedicine visits far more convenient than their in-person counterparts.
Think about your own experiences. Would you rather log on to a telemedicine platform and be visiting with your doctor within minutes, or travel to the doctor’s office and sit in the waiting room for 45 minutes before getting into an exam room? There is no doubt that remote visits are more convenient.
It’s fair to say that telemedicine doesn’t work for everything. You cannot set a broken arm over videoconferencing software. Patients cannot receive chemotherapy online. But for things like primary care and mental health visits, where patient-doctor conversations make up the bulk of the care, telemedicine works just fine. It might even be better.
More Than Telemedicine
To truly appreciate the convenience factor, one must look beyond telemedicine. Remember that telemedicine is narrowly defined as delivering healthcare services via digital technology. Telehealth goes beyond just service delivery.
Telehealth also includes that patient portal you use to make appointments. It covers digital billing, transferring patient records between facilities, remote consultations between clinicians, and on and on. Yet no matter what aspect you’re talking about, telehealth makes things more efficient. It makes things more convenient for everyone involved.
It is no coincidence that convenience is rated so highly when you consider that we live in a convenience-oriented culture. Companies in nearly every industry bend over backwards to offer their customers convenience. Everything from food delivery to on-demand ride-sharing is all about giving people the convenience they want. Why would it be any different for medicine?
The Technology Is Improving
CSI Health, a San Antonio, TX company that specializes in telehealth solutions, says the icing on the cake is vastly improved technology. Technology continues to get better as companies like CSI Health figure out exactly what will make clinicians and patients happy. They are making tremendous headway in the area of designing diagnostic tools that can be built in to remote telehealth solutions.
As those diagnostic tools improve, telemedicine adoption should increase. The result should be even more convenience for greater numbers of patients who no longer need to travel to an office to receive care. Expect more happy patients for many years to come.