For minor ailments such as strep throat or pink eye, most patients would prefer to use telemedicine, according to a new study from Software Advice.
Even though most surveyed (73%) have never participated in a telemedical visit, 76% of patients are at least “moderately interested” in virtually visiting the doctor instead of in a doctor’s office for a minor health condition.
The most cited reasons for wanting to use telemedicine include, in this order:
- High quality of care (21%)
- Not having to travel (21%)
- The ability to enjoy the comforts of home (20%)
- Quick access to care (11%)
- A shorter wait time (10%)
Patients living in rural areas or without access to transportation are particularly interested in telemedicine, as they may have trouble getting to and from doctor’s appointments. In fact, telehealth adoption numbers are significantly higher at hospitals located in more rural areas compared to urban areas, said a 2014 report from the Center for Connected Health.
“If the obstacles to creating and offering a reliable video appointment service can be overcome, for patients who have the interest, aptitude, and confidence, there exists an opportunity to co-create the broader experience and availability of video appointments,” said Matthew Gardner, a Mayo Clinic research designer, in a study on video-based doctor’s appointments.
Those obstacles include the lack of in-person interaction and technical issues, among other things, and half of patients (56%) in the Software Advice survey were not sure if their insurance covers telemedicine. As of January 2014, 22 U.S. states require insurers to reimburse for telemedicine visits and in-office visits by certain providers equally, with new legislation currently proposed in multiple states.