Survey: 71% Of Americans Fearful
to Visit Doctor’s Office Due to Covid-19
Telehealth has experienced tremendous growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Medical providers have expanded access to care for patients by offering virtual appointments and other online services, which has allowed patients to speak with their doctor from the comfort of their homes during COVID-19.
As a health data management firm interested in telehealth’s potential in becoming more common, Harmony Healthcare IT surveyed Americans about their experiences with telehealth and if they plan to continue to use virtual medical services after the pandemic.
Telehealth and COVID-19
Telehealth has helped medical providers continue to see their patients virtually, either through video conferencing tools such as Zoom or Skype. Not only does telehealth provide convenience for patients, but it also helps them limit their risk of exposure to COVID-19, which is a priority considering that 71% of respondents are fearful to visit a doctor’s office or hospital due to the pandemic.
Overall, 67% of survey respondents said they have used telehealth in some form since the pandemic and 46% said they had used telehealth prior to COVID-19. Even though 63% were apprehensive about their first telehealth appointment, 72% ultimately enjoyed their experience.
Convenience, safety and flexibility were the top three factors of telehealth that patients liked the most.
Telehealth Wait Times
Along with convenience, respondents also said they experienced shorter wait times with telehealth compared to in-person visits. More than half of respondents said the time between scheduling an appointment and visiting their medical provider was shorter than in-person. According to respondents, 61% said the time spent in the virtual waiting room was also shorter than an in-person visit.
However, one-third said they experienced delays during their telehealth visit due to technical difficulties and 28% said those delays caused them to miss or reschedule their appointment.
How Patients are Using Telehealth
Whether it’s their primary care physician or dermatologist, patients can be connected to their medical provider from almost anywhere with the simple touch of a button. While respondents reported using telehealth to see a wide variety of medical providers, virtual appointments with primary care physicians were the most common (59%), followed by cardiologists (11%), neurologists (11%) and oncologists (6%).
Along with using telehealth to check their physical health, 42% of respondents said they’ve also used the technology to speak with a mental health professional. Interestingly, 70% said they would be more willing to speak with a mental health professional if they could do so virtually.
Telehealth vs. In-Person Visits
Even though most respondents enjoyed their telehealth experience, many are still split on the type of visit they prefer. Overall, 55% said they would still prefer an in-person visit. Among age groups, millennials said they felt the most comfortable using telehealth (59%) while baby boomers were the least comfortable (46%).
In terms of providing an extra level of comfort for patients, medical providers may want to consider ramping up telehealth security measures. According to respondents, 43% have concerns over privacy and security when using telehealth.
Despite these concerns, 70% feel telehealth provides adequate care and 66% feel that telehealth will eventually replace in-person doctor visits that don’t require hands-on exams or labs. It’s also interesting to note that 66% would be willing to give up their current doctor if it meant they could receive a quicker telehealth appointment.
Future of Telehealth
What does the future hold for telehealth after the COVID-19 pandemic? There are certainly a number of improvements that patients would like to see such as increased security and privacy as well as making the service more affordable and more broadly adopted. However, these requested improvements aren’t turning patients away from using the technology. According to respondents, 60% said they plan to use telehealth after the COVID-19 pandemic.
As telehealth continues to evolve, both patients and medical providers will be taking the journey together. COVID-19 has provided an opportunity for patients to give valuable feedback on their experiences with telehealth, which will help pave the way for the technology post-pandemic and beyond.
From July 8 to July 10, 2020, we surveyed 2,042 Americans on the topic of telehealth. Of those respondents, 51% were female and 49% were male and the median age was 36. 57% had employer-based health insurance, 23% had Medicare and 10% had Medicaid.