Research by telehealth platform Doximity found that nearly three-quarters of patients surveyed said they plan to continue receiving at least some care virtually.
In its second State of Telemedicine report, provider of virtual care platform Doximity found that about three-quarters of patients surveyed said they plan to continue using telemedicine after the pandemic.
The report, which surveyed 2,000 patients and more than 1,000 doctors, found evidence that virtual care has helped build trust among users.
"Our study results indicate that both physicians and patients have found it easy and convenient to adopt telemedicine, so much so that they plan to continue using it post-pandemic," said Peter Alperin, vice president of product at Doximity, in an explanation.
BECAUSE IT IS IMPORTANT
Doximity's report attempted to predict future trends in telemedicine by analyzing the adoption of telemedicine in its user base from January 2020 to June 2021 and conducting a study of patient experiences with telemedicine over the same period.
According to the report, Boston was the metro area with the highest rate of telemedicine adoption among physicians, followed by Baltimore, Charlotte, North Carolina, Philadelphia and San Francisco.
The report found that adoption was strong across all age groups of physicians, with higher rates among endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, and rheumatologists.
Two-thirds of physicians surveyed felt that access to telemedicine has helped establish or maintain trust with patients from historically underserved communities.
"One possible explanation is that telemedicine increases patients' sense of security and allows access to care without the potential risk of infectious exposure (and inconvenience) during face-to-face visits in busy clinical settings," the researchers wrote.
"Another factor affecting patient confidence may be the ease of including family members and other caregivers in a virtual environment, regardless of their physical location," they continued.
As for patient perspectives, more than 73% of patients surveyed said they planned to receive “part” or “all” of their care via telemedicine post-pandemic.
The report's authors found that this rate was consistent across different racial and ethnic groups.
"It's clear that telemedicine is now an expected part of their healthcare experience, even as they think about life after the pandemic," they said.
Nevertheless, they found that broadband access remains an important factor for health equity and access to virtual care. The survey found that 19% of patients with household incomes under $25,000 rely on their smartphones to access the internet at home.
Health systems can promote health equity by investing in mobile-first solutions that are optimized for variable and potentially slower internet speeds,” the researchers said.
THE BIGGEST TREND
Although telemedicine usage rates have certainly declined since the famous peak of April 2020, many industry stakeholders have been closely monitoring usage rates during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Sanjula Jain, director of research at Trilliant Health, says it's important to look at why and how patients are using telemedicine, not just who is doing it.
"That's not to say virtual care companies won't thrive, but you do need to know the limitations of your customer base," he told Healthcare IT News last month. "That doesn't mean you can't build a profitable business on it."
IN THE REGISTRATION
"We anticipate that demand for telemedicine service options will remain strong and healthcare systems may even compete to provide the best telemedicine experience," the Doximity researchers wrote.