News Feature | July 30, 2015

Patients Worry About Telemedicine

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Remote Monitoring In Healthcare

Despite the growing popularity of virtual visits, patients report they would still be more likely to see their doctor in person.

Do your patients trust telemedicine services for their healthcare? According to a recent study, some patients have reservations when it comes to trusting their care to virtual visits.

Fierce Health IT reports that in a survey of more than 500 patients, 65 percent of respondents said they would be "somewhat or very unlikely" to use telemedicine in place of a face-to-face meeting with their provider. Interestingly, however, about the same amount of respondents said they would be more likely to schedule a virtual visit if they had met the doctor in person before.

“This is perhaps the largest issue that telemedicine vendors and healthcare providers will need to overcome,” said Cameron Graham, Managing Editor at TechnologyAdvice and the study’s author in an announcement. “If patients don’t trust the diagnoses made during telemedicine calls, they may ignore the advice given, fail to take preventative steps, or seek additional in person appointments, which defeats the point of telemedicine.”

Additionally, the study found:

  • 36.7 percent of respondents said they would feel uncomfortable with a virtual visit
  • 45 percent would trust a diagnosis via telemedicine less than one given in person
  • 1.1 percent would trust a telemedicine diagnosis more than one made in person
  • patients 65 and older were more likely (54.1 percent) to say they didn't trust telemedicine diagnosis at all
  • more convenient scheduling options was the main incentive to use of telemedicine by respondents

Younger patients are reportedly less skeptical of telemedicine. The survey found that less than 20 percent of those ages 18-24 said they wouldn't trust a virtual diagnosis. Of 25-44 year olds, 24 percent said they wouldn’t trust a virtual diagnosis.

“This suggests much of the hesitation about telemedicine may stem from patient fears over lack of physician choice, or lack of familiarity with the doctor they see,” said Graham. “This can likely be eased through a combination of education materials, and clear explanations about how much physician choice is offered.”