More doctors and health insurers are offering consumers a lot more access to digital healthcare tools, including digital doctor visits, according to a pair new surveys from healthcare information services company SOTI Inc. and the trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans.
But so far consumers aren’t rushing to use all the available online tools physicians and payers are providing.
More than half of U.S. physicians (57%) offer their patients a mobile app to schedule appointments, access personal healthcare information, view lab results and do other tasks. As a result, nearly half of consumers (46%) are more likely to schedule follow-up visits, leading to healthier patients, earlier detection of diseases like cancer and heart disease, and more revenue for doctors, according to a survey of more than 500 consumers by SOTI.
Consumers that use a mobile app provided by their doctor like the ease and convenience, the SOTI survey added.The survey also revealed:
- 54% of patients believe physicians who leverage mobile technology cut down on physician wait times.
- 57% of respondents say they prefer to communicate with physicians and office staff through mobile apps vs. calling the doctor’s office directly.
- Consumers used physician-supplied mobile apps to schedule appointments (70%), view laboratory results (52%) and request prescriptions 40%.
But not all consumers are using mobile apps, and most still prefer seeing a doctor in person. The survey found that 67% of respondents prefer in-office visits over telehealth services.
The survey also revealed that mobile security is a top concern for patients, with 40% of patients “very concerned” about the potential for data breaches and 43% “somewhat” concerned. Nearly 80% of patients believe that physicians are the party most responsible to protect their confidential healthcare data, says the SOTI survey. “Healthcare providers need to invest in platforms and reassure patients that their personal healthcare information is safe and secure,” says SOTI vice president of enterprise mobility Ryan Webber.
Health insurers also are offering consumers more access to digital tools—and struggling to get plan members to use them.
The vast majority of commercial plans (94%) and Medicare Advantage plans (92%) are currently offering virtual care services, and most Medicaid managed care plans (93%) are currently either offering or considering offering such services, according to new data from America’s Health Insurance Plans. Both commercial plans (87%) and Medicaid managed care plans (91%) say that engaging patients to use virtual care is a key challenge.
Restrictions on Medicare coverage of telehealth that limit the abilities of seniors to reach a doctor via virtual visit is one barrier. Physicians’ abilities to work across state lines are determined by the state where licensure was granted, restricting the ability of clinicians to deliver virtual care to patients outside the states where they are licensed, says America’s Health Insurance Plans. “Addressing challenges, such as patient engagement and the regulatory landscape, will be critical to maximizing the potential for virtual care as it is increasingly integrated into care delivery,” the trade group says.