CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – The global pandemic has created a fear for people wanting to make doctors visits and risking catching the virus. This has cause a skyrocketing desire for “telehealth” across the country.
Digital Third Coast worked with Harmony Healthcare IT on a survey of 2,000 Americans to collect data on how telehealth has grown since COVID-19, and what their experience was like. In their research they found was 67% of Americans have used telehealth since COVID-19, with an average of 2.9 telehealth visits since their first one. This number compares to only 46% telehealth visits by Americans prior to the virus.
Matt Zajechowski, a Content Strategist with Digital Third Coast, said the research they collected shows a possibly bright future in the shift to virtual doctor visits for the specific types of appointments.
“The adoption to this new form of doctor visits, will lead to more access to health care for more people, and I think that’s a positive that’s came out of this pandemic, or at least the biggest one,” said Zajechowski. “I do think we will see a more serious shift away from the traditional way people get treated, which could cause great opportunity for this field.”
Zajechowski said the appointments they will hold virtually will be focused towards the visits that do not need to be hands on for any reason such as certain exams. The majority of the virtual visits in this survey were more focused on the following:
- Primary Care
Throughout the pandemic there has also been large grants given to universities across the country, including WVU and Fairmont State, that will help fund specific lectures and courses all dedicated to learning about how to diagnose and work virtually.
“It shows more positive reinforcement that there are a lot of people accepting this, and we could potentially see a lot of people shift towards this technology,” said Zajechowski. “I mean, especially when you see health care systems, and universities embracing the training of people that are going into the medical field, in this type of online version of the job. This shows that our healthcare officials are continuing to learn and grow with this as well.”
The studies showed that men and women were about the same with accepting telehealth, but the younger generation was more welcoming, and comfortable with it than the older population. Overall, individuals involved with the study, enjoyed the convenience, the short wait time, and quicker access the virtual visit had.
Key findings from the study:
- 71% of respondents said they are fearful to visit a doctor’s office due to COVID-19.
- 67% of Americans have used telehealth since COVID-19, compared to only 46% prior to COVID-19.
- 63% were apprehensive about their first telehealth appointment, 72% ultimately enjoyed the experience.
- Top responses for what patients like most about telehealth: 1. Convenience 2. Safety (avoid virus exposure) 3. Flexibility 4. Less wait time 5. Comfort of being at home 6. Easier to schedule follow-ups 7. Better communication.
- 60% of respondents said they’ll continue to use telehealth post COVID-19 and 52% said they would see their doctor more often if they could use telehealth in the future.
“This study was important because now they can learn about, this is what we are doing well, this is what people want, and this is what they dislike,” Zajechowski said. “Ultimately this is helping us get better at what we can do better moving forward with this.”