Have you been to a doctor’s office in the past 12 months? How much time did you spend waiting compared with time spent with a physician? One of the promises of telemedicine is that it can make the process more efficient for both patients and professionals, saving valuable time and money. But do consumers want to have virtual visits with their doctors? We’ve reported on other surveys in the past, but a new one underscores a clear message: patients are ready for telehealth solutions.
A new study by Accenture, “2017 Consumer Survey on Virtual Health,” has some strong results. The survey asked respondents if they would be interested in a list of 16 different services ranging from “Track my health status” to “Participate in mental health group therapy.” At least half the people indicated that they probably or definitely use such a service for all 16 choices. Many of the services were favored by about 3 out of 4 participants, including tracking health status, follow-up appointments (after an in-person visit), home services following discharge from the hospital, and receiving healthy living reminders.
According to Accenture, virtual and telehealth programs have the potential to save more than $7 billion a year in primary care physician costs through more efficient delivery of services. This does not include additional savings that will result from healthier patients and earlier intervention in cases of injury or illness, and it does not factor in the travel and time costs incurred by consumers when going to a doctor’s office or other clinical setting. The “pull” is already in place in the consumer market; all we need now is for healthcare providers and insurance companies to develop and offer the systems to the public.