A new survey, reported in Modern Healthcare, reports that 77% of patients in the United States are open to receiving care via telehealth but that only 19% have done so. The results from the Virtual Visits Consumer Choice Survey, conducted by The Advisory Board Company, suggest a large opportunity for health care providers.
In a statement shared in the article, a consultant for the Advisory Board's Market Innovation Center indicated that telehealth is a promising market as patients and payers seek cost-effective, convenient care. "Direct-to-consumer virtual specialty and chronic care are largely untapped frontiers," said Emily Zuehlke.
The article also noted that the cost savings of telehealth is under debate, because integrating tools can be expensive and because, according to a recent RAND Corp. study, its convenience may cause more patients to seek care.
Other findings from the Advisory Board included the top concern, which was care quality, cited by 21% of respondents. Nearly 20% were concerned that virtual visits would not allow them to be diagnosed or treated, leading to a subsequent in-person visit.
The 77% of respondents who were open to virtual care also shared how they would like to use it. These reasons included asking about a prescription or getting a refill, taking care of pre-op and post-op appointments, receiving ongoing oncology results, managing chronic conditions, and getting pregnancy checkups. Other reasons were coaching for weight loss and smoking cessation, as well as dermatology and psychologist consultations.
Virtual checkups for children are already taking place, with 40% of parents having used them. Other patients who have already used telehealth are those 49 years old or younger. Patients who have private insurance and higher incomes are much more likely to use telehealth than lower-income patients on Medicaid or Medicare.
Virtual care is a growing trend. According to the survey, 90% of large employers plan to offer telehealth this year, and 63% of healthcare providers already use telehealth. A leader in this trend is Kaiser Permanente, which last year relied on telehealth for more than half of its patient visits.
For a global perspective, the article quoted a Zion Market Research study to show just how much telehealth is growing. In 2016, telehealth was a $18.2 billion global market, and by 2022 it is predicted to reach $38 billion.

If you are interested in learning more about Telehealth and Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM), please be sure to check out the CAST Telehealth/RPM Technology Selection Tool.