The Rise of Telehealth During COVID-19
By Matthew Zajechowski, content strategist, Digital Third Coast.
The use of Telehealth services has seen remarkable growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent research found that 67% of Americans have used telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is up from 46% prior to COVID-19. One might wonder if this growth is temporary or poised for more long-term growth post-pandemic.
To learn more about the growing trend of telehealth use, my agency worked with a data management firm to survey the American public about their experiences using telehealth during COVID-19 and whether or not they plan to continue to use these virtual medical services in the future.
Telehealth and Covid-19
One immediate observation that we learned as a result of this analysis is that 71% of Americans are currently fearful to visit their doctor’s office due to COVID-19. Because of these fears, many people have shifted towards using telehealth services during the pandemic. While 63% of respondents were originally apprehensive about their first telehealth visit, 72% reported enjoying their first telehealth experience.
What patients like most about telehealth
Why do patients prefer seeing a doctor virtually as opposed to in-person? Convivence safety and flexibility with appointments were the top responses. Many patients are shifting to telehealth as a means to avoid potential virus exposure.
Shorter wait-times are also driving people to telehealth appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients reported spending less time both between scheduling the appointment and the visit as well as time spent waiting in a virtual waiting room to be seen.
Access to care is another positive trend from increased telehealth use during COVID-19. Eighty percent (80%) of surveyed respondents believe telehealth has improved their ability to receive access to care during the pandemic. Seventy percent (70%) feel that telehealth provides adequate care and 65% believe telehealth provides accurate diagnosis to symptoms.
Telehealth visits also have the potential to replace some medical visits depending on the severity of the ailment. Sixty-six percent of our surveyed respondents feel telehealth will ultimately end up replacing in-person doctor visits that don’t require hands-on exams; 69% said they are less likely to use an ER or urgent care for non-life-threatening visits in the future if telehealth becomes more available.