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Do Patients Want Telemedicine? Of Course They Do!

We all know telemedicine works, that patients and providers like it, and that outcomes are increasingly being shown to be positive on a wide variety of measures. There are also lots of studies looking at patient groups and assessing whether they would accept and use telemedicine services. Most of these however are focused on a dedicated group of patients (e.g., the elderly, those with COPD) and don’t really capture the bigger picture.

The results of a new survey on Patient Interest in Adopting Telemedicine by EHR Evaluation Software Advice support what we already know regarding attitudes about telemedicine and reveal a few new interesting points. Some of the highlights of the survey include the fact that 75% of respondents had never participated in a telemedicine visit (we need to get the message out!!!), but across all respondents 76% were at least moderately interested in telemedicine, and 71% would strongly or somewhat prefer a telemedicine over ER visit for a minor ailment!

We know the reasons why and the survey confirmed it – high quality of care, reduced travel, comfort of home, timely access, shorter wait times, easy to use, waiting room avoidance, and cost effective. It also confirmed the challenges – loss of in-person interaction, technology, no physical exam, low quality of care, uncomfortable with video, cannot read body language, too little time spent, and security issues. Surprisingly (or not) only 5% expressed concerns about not spending enough time and only 2% expressed concerns about security. Regulatory bodies pay attention!

An interesting question rarely asked was about patients’ awareness about insurance coverage for telemedicine. 56% were not sure, 24% said their insurance did not cover and only 20% said it did. Rather discouraging for the latter two, but not so surprising for not sure – coverage in general can be so complicated to understand. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same pattern of responses was obtained if they were asked about a specific in-person type of visit or other aspect of coverage!

For the full picture and the rest of the questions on the survey I encourage you to check out the report – then get out there and spread the word! Patients want telemedicine – let’s give it to them!

About the Author

Elizabeth Krupinski, Ph.D. is a Professor at Emory University in the Department of Radiology & Imaging Sciences and is Vice-chair of Research.. She is Associate Director of Evaluation for the Arizona Telemedicine Program and Director of the SWTRC. She has published extensively in these areas, and has presented at conferences nationally and internationally. She is Past Chair of the SPIE Medical Imaging Conference, Past President of the American Telemedicine Association, President of the Medical Image Perception Society, and Past Chair of the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine. She serves on a number of editorial boards for both radiology and telemedicine journals and is the Co-Editor of the Journal of Telemedicine & Telecare.

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