Some practices are beginning to have physicians conduct only virtual visits on certain days of the week so that the process is more seamless for patients.

More consumers are willing to try telehealth and most are very satisfied with their digital doctor visit for a chronic ailment, says a new survey of 4,530 consumers by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, a part of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd.

But that same survey also reveals that healthcare providers and telehealth service companies still have some areas left for improvement.

While 77% of consumers have never tried a telehealth, or virtual visit, more than half (57%) of survey respondents said they are willing to try. Millennials are more likely than other age groups to have had a virtual visit, Deloitte says.

Most consumers who have tried virtual visits report a high level of satisfaction at 77%. “Consumers with a chronic condition, and those who say their conditions have a major impact on their lives, are even more likely to report high satisfaction with virtual visits,” says Deloitte Consulting LLP, is a managing director Ken Abrams. “Most consumers who have common chronic diseases are highly satisfied with virtual visits.

Fewer than half of consumers (44%) say the wait time was shorter for a virtual visit, and only one-third felt they received the information they needed.

Despite high levels of satisfaction, there is still room for improvement in how providers and vendors deliver telehealth services.

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For example, only 53% of consumers thought the healthcare professional they saw during the virtual visit was as professional or knowledgeable as someone they would see during an in-person visit.

Fewer than half of consumers (44%) also say the wait time was shorter for a virtual visit, and only one-third felt they received the information they needed. “As more physician-patient interactions happen virtually, physicians and health systems might need to determine how to ensure an appropriate ‘webside manner,’” Abrams says. “This could include strategies for focusing on the patient during the virtual visit, conveying empathy and compassion, and communicating with the patient even while looking at data or notes and not making eye contact.”

Other Deloitte survey findings include:

• The “personalization of care” was the top-ranked measure among consumers, ranked higher than measures related to cost or convenience. This measure includes personalized experiences with providers (for example, feeling heard and understood, not feeling rushed, and having a clear understanding of directions and information),” Deloitte says.
• If a physician is switching between in-person visits and virtual visits, the patient in the virtual visit might still have to wait. “Some practices are beginning to have physicians conduct only virtual visits on certain days of the week so that the process is more seamless for patients,” Abrams says.

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