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Physician and Consumer Perceptions of Virtual Care

By June 22, 2018Commentary

Delivery of health care in a manner other than live person-to-person encounters obviously could improve access, and may reduce spending.  Despite the advance in communications technology, telemedicine or virtual care has spread relatively slowly.  Findings from two Deloitte surveys of physicians and of consumers may help explain the hesitation of many to use these capabilities.   (Deloitte Survey)   According to the survey, 23% of consumers have used some form of virtual visit with a doctor or nurse and of those who hadn’t done so, 57% said they were willing to consider such a method of getting care.  For patients who choose not to use telemedicine, 28% said they don’t like the lack of a personal connection with their physician; 28% expressed concerns about the quality of care and 24% were concerned about the technical ability to have good access.  On the other side, only 14% of physicians have implemented technology for virtual care, and another 18% say they are considering doing so.  Doctors primary concerns about telemedicine include making medical errors, data security and adequate technology for good access.  Both patients and physicians see potential benefits to telemedicine.  33% of patients feel virtual care is available more hours, 25% said they could still get care when they didn’t feel well enough to leave their home and 25% said the closest doctor’s office was too far from their work or home.  66% of physicians believed telemedicine improved access to care, 52% said it improved patient satisfaction and 45% said it improved the ability to stay connected with patients and their caregivers.  The findings demonstrate a good environment for the growth of telemedicine, but perceptual barriers on some issues, like data security and the adequacy and ease of use of technology.  The payer world has not yet really figured out how to push more use of virtual care, despite the fact that it likely lowers the total cost of care.

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