Access to telehealth services still low, with many questioning its value

Nearly three quarters of Americans said they are unaware of, or unable to access telehealth services, even though one in 10 said they had previously used telehealth technology.

These were among the findings of a J.D. Power survey of 1,000 Americans, which also found patients between the ages of 18 and 24 to have used telehealth more than any other age group – seniors used telehealth services the least.

While telehealth awareness lowest in rural areas, low levels of awareness nationwide, coupled with lack of access, are hindering adoption, the study concluded.

However, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said they would be more likely to use telehealth services if the cost was less than their copay for a doctor’s office visit.

The results indicate for the patients standing to gain the most from healthcare, services need to be positioned to patients as a way to reduce costs, while simultaneously maintaining a high level of care.

Indeed, the survey suggested that quality of care is a concern, with just under half of survey respondents saying they believe telehealth services are subpar compared to the care they’d get in a physical doctor’s office.

As the healthcare industry undergoes a wide-ranging digital transformation, another survey of U.S. consumers found mobile applications are proving to be a hit with patients.

The study, commissioned by mobile device management specialist SOTI, found more than half of U.S. physicians (57 percent) offer their patients a mobile app to do tasks like schedule appointments, access personal healthcare information, or view lab results.

Expansion of telehealth coverage and reimbursement at the state level has grown since 2017, according to the latest American Telemedicine Association study, though the report also indicated some states still lack the authority or resources needed to fully deploy telehealth across the state.

Better access to healthcare professionals and faster service are among the top reasons senior citizens are willing to embrace telehealth technologies, according to a recent survey sponsored by American Well.

Nearly 60 percent of the 400 American seniors surveyed looked at telehealth as a way to save time and money (54 percent), as well as a way to better access to providers (53 percent).

In one case, the introduction of telehealth services helped the Ohio Living Home Health and Hospice achieve a readmissions rate of just 7.5 percent, nearly half of the state’s Medicare average.

Not only has the telehealth program helped improve patient adherence to health plans, but overall adherence to the telehealth program itself stands at 80 percent.

“Telehealth technology is maturing, but the relatively low levels of engagement we’re seeing implies that major initiatives in both patient education and consumer experience are the next steps in making Telehealth a staple for healthcare delivery in the United States,” Greg Truex, managing director of health intelligence at J.D. Power, said in a statement.

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer: [email protected]
Twitter: @dropdeaded209

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