WASHINGTON, June 19, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- In the future, we may look back on physician practice waiting rooms with nostalgia as more care is received through virtual visits, such as telehealth. That future is becoming less distant, according to a new Virtual Visits Consumer Choice Survey from Advisory Board.
Up to 77% of consumers would consider seeing a provider virtually—and 19% already have, according to the survey. The results suggest that the health care industry has largely underestimated and, to date, failed to meet consumer interest in virtual care.
"Across industries, consumers have become accustomed to using virtual technology for both real-time and asynchronous interactions. Health care providers can no longer wait to catch up," said Tom Cassels, National Strategy Partner at Advisory Board. "Providers have designed care access around their own convenience and will increasingly find patients willing to pay for their own convenience and alternatives to driving to physician offices for medical expertise."
Virtual access to care provides well-documented benefits, such as improved access to providers, greater efficiency and flexibility, and comparable care outcomes. But when Advisory Board conducted hundreds of interviews with health care leaders, researchers discovered a common barrier to growing a mature program—physician resistance.
Many physicians perceive their patients as only being interested in having an in-person relationship with their doctor, especially when it comes to specialty services. The survey results indicate otherwise.
Consumers Pick Most Popular Virtual Visits
The survey tested many types of virtual visits and found many interested over 70% of respondents, including a prescription question or refill, pre-surgery and select post-operation appointments, receiving ongoing results from an oncologist, and ongoing care for chronic condition management. Select pregnancy checkups, weight loss or smoking cessation coaching, dermatology consults, and psychologist consults also ranked among top offerings.
Overall, the majority of the nearly 5,000 survey respondents reported that they would be willing to consider a virtual visit in each of the 21 primary and specialty care scenarios tested.
Advisory Board's survey also found consumer concerns with virtual visits. Notably, care quality was the top concern with a virtual visit (identified by 21% of survey respondents), followed by the provider not being able to diagnose or treat them virtually (19%), meaning they would have to go to the physical clinic anyway. Only 9% of respondents said they had no concerns about virtual visits. Health care providers will need to respond to consumers' top concerns in order to actually convert interested prospects into virtual patients.
Open Opportunities for Patient Engagement
"Direct-to-consumer virtual specialty and chronic care are largely untapped frontiers," said Emily Zuehlke, Consultant, Research at Advisory Board. "As consumers increasingly shop for convenient, affordable health care—and as payers' interest in low-cost access continues to grow—this survey suggests that consumers are likely to reward those who offer virtual visits for specialty and chronic care."
While these survey results should be a wake-up call to health care providers, they must realize that virtual visits are not appropriate for all providers or appealing to all patients. Most significantly, reimbursement and regulations vary by state and an integration strategy is critical to connecting virtual patients with future in-person care.
The Virtual Visits Consumer Choice Survey is Advisory Board's ninth nationwide consumer choice survey designed to better understand the tradeoffs that consumers make when they need different types of care. This MaxDiff survey asked 4,879 consumers across the United States about their interest in and experience with telehealth.
For more on the findings from the new survey, please see our article for Health Data Management or our briefing for hospital and health system members of Market Innovation Center. For questions about the surveys, please contact Sarah Rosen.
About Advisory Board
Advisory Board is a best practices firm that uses a combination of research, technology, and consulting to improve the performance of 4,400+ health care organizations. As the health care business of The Advisory Board Company (NASDAQ: ABCO), Advisory Board forges and finds the best new ideas and proven practices from its network of thousands of leaders, then customizes and hardwires them into every level of member organizations, creating enduring value. For more information, visit www.advisory.com.
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SOURCE The Advisory Board Company