Consumers want telehealth—what does that mean for health systems?

Today, 50 million U.S. consumers would switch providers to one that offers telehealth, compared to 17 million in 2015.
By American Well
10:45 AM
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Today, 50 million U.S. consumers would switch providers to one that offers telehealth, compared to 17 million in 2015.

60 percent of adults willing to have a video visit with a doctor want to see a doctor online regularly to help manage a chronic condition.

How do these findings impact your health system’s perspective on keeping your patients satisfied?

American Well commissioned Harris Poll to conduct two online studies among over 4,000 adults. The results are weighted to be representative of the American adult population across standard demographics.

American Well commissioned Harris Poll to conduct two online studies among over 4,000 adults. The results are weighted to be representative of the American adult population across standard demographics. The results of that survey are captured in a new survey: the 2017 Consumer Telehealth Index.  

While the survey highlights many key consumer trends in telehealth, a few of these trends have big implications for health systems. Below we summarize American Well’s takeaways and implications for health systems.

Consumers want to see their PCPs

65 percent of consumers are interested in seeing their PCP over video

Consumers want to see the PCP they trust and know through telehealth. Twenty percent of consumers said they were willing to switch to a PCP that offered video visits. For health systems looking to retain current patients, as well as bring new patients into the system, making telehealth part of the primary care offering can produce big results.

 Avera Health, a health system based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, used its direct-to-consumer telehealth service, AveraNow, to attract new patients. As of June 2016, 12 percent of AveraNow patients were new to the Avera System. A longer-term objective for Avera is also to create stronger patient relationships with Avera PCPs. To do this, Avera plans to roll out telehealth to brick-and-mortar practices within the Avera Health System, allowing physicians to see their own patients and reinforce those relationships.

Consumers are more likely to avoid an ER if telehealth is an option

20 percent of Americans would use a video visit for middle-of-the-night care

That’s not to say that consumers have abandoned the emergency room but they are open to alternative options of care. This consumer sentiment is driven largely by long wait times and high costs. Health systems can use telehealth to divert resources and costs away from the ER and urgent care facilities and into lower cost options like telehealth.

Southwest Medical Associates, a health system based in Las Vegas, Nevada, deploys an in-clinic marketing strategy for its telehealth service, SMA NowClinic. One marketing tactic involves the use of TV screens to post the wait times at all SMA Urgent Care locations—sometimes showing as high as 90 minutes—while another screen reads “Need to speak to someone right away” and promotes the telehealth service. To date, Southwest Medical has enrolled more than 30,000 patients in telehealth and conducted more than 20,000 telehealth visits.

Consumers want to use video visits for follow-up care

52 percent of adults willing to have a video visit to see a doctor are interested in using video visits for post-surgical or hospital stay follow-ups.

It’s estimated that between 15 percent and 25 percent of people discharged from the hospital will be readmitted within 30 days, with many of these readmissions being preventable. Consumers are open to the idea that follow-up care can be done via telehealth. Physicians that offer follow-up care via video may find that patients are more likely to adhere to recommendations since they feel more in control of their treatment.

In addition to offering urgent care services with its telehealth service NYP On Demand, New York-Presbyterian also offers follow-up visits so that patients can see their own physicians for appointments that do not require coming in to a clinic or hospital.

Consumers want to manager chronic conditions via video

60 percent of adults willing to have a video visit with a doctor are interested in seeing a doctor online to manage chronic conditions

Today, 1 in 2 U.S. adults have a chronic condition. Treating chronic conditions comes at a high costs for both consumers and health systems, making it equally beneficial to move these reoccurring visits to video. Building specialty programs for conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and congestive health failure—and making consumers aware of the programs—can drive better patient outcomes.

Marshfield Clinic, a health system based in Wisconsin, is expanding its virtual care services and envisions providing support to its diabetic population by monitoring blood sugar and offering medication counseling.

Consumer thoughts and perspectives on telehealth are becoming increasingly important to health systems, and forward-thinking health systems are using telehealth to determine the services they offer in the future. 

Topics: 
Telehealth