News Feature | February 11, 2015

75% Of Patients 'Express Interest' In Using Telemedicine

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Telehealth Superior To Inconvenient Office Visits

Of patients who had never tried telemedicine services, three of four they were interested in trying it in place of an in-person visit.

A report by web-based EHR comparison group Software Advice indicates patient interest in telemedicine services is on the rise. The majority of respondents - 75 percent - said that while they had never tried telemedicine, they were interested in trying such services in place of an in-person medical visit.

According to iHealth Beat, other results of the survey showed:

  • 39 percent of all respondents were “extremely interested” or “very interested” in using telemedicine services
  • 71 percent of all respondents reported they would “strongly prefer” or “somewhat prefer” online care for minor medical ailments
  • 6 percent said they saw no benefits to telemedicine

Of those who had used telemedicine services in the past, 21 percent cited not having to travel for care as the biggest benefit while 21 percent said the greatest benefit was that the quality of care was equal to or better than an office visit.

Matthew Gardner, a research designer at the Mayo Clinic who previously studied patient perceptions of videoconferencing visits, says in the report that the comfort of home is a huge factor in these types of doctor visits. “If people got used to [videoconferencing], there could be a [significant] benefit to being with family members while receiving a diagnosis and not being in a clinical environment,” he suggests.

Fierce Health IT does point out patient concerns about telemedicine. For example, 21 percent said the virtual visits were less personal, while 8 percent said they are uncomfortable making video calls and 6 percent said it was difficult to read body language through video.

Eric Wicklund, editor at mHealthNews explains, “The definition of a ‘face-to-face interaction’ is going to change. Do [patients] want to take the time and effort to be in the office with a doctor for what, in most cases, is a simple health question that they want answered? Once they see how easily it is done, and how they can still have a conversation with a doctor and how their questions can be solved in this manner, I think that’s going to ease a lot of their concerns about missing a face-to-face consult.”

“Our data indicates that patients, too, are interested in using telemedicine to improve their overall experience. Thus, providers should consider how this technology can fulfill patient’s desires to access medical care from the comfort of home - while saving their practices valuable time and resources,” the report concluded.