Though it may have once been on the fringe of healthcare, telehealth is here to stay after the COVID-19 pandemic.
A survey of 240 physicians from Optum released March 15 shows that providers' use of telehealth services has exploded. Before the pandemic, 65 percent of providers had never used telehealth, compared with only 3 percent today. Ninety-three percent of providers say they are somewhat or very likely to continue with telehealth after the pandemic.
Providers used telehealth for these services the most:
- Primary care visits: 75 percent
- Chronic care visits: 72 percent
- Prescription refills: 64 percent
- COVID-19 screenings: 39 percent
- Urgent care visits: 38 percent
- Mental health concerns: 36 percent
- Follow-up after a procedure or surgery: 28 percent
Though 86 percent of patients schedule telehealth visits over the phone, nearly half prefer to schedule online. Optum says providers who meet this need will earn a competitive advantage.
Nearly 70 percent of providers and 90 percent of patients said the best feature of telehealth is convenience. A quarter of providers, however, say that telehealth is frustrating because of the level of care they can offer, and 58 percent cited it as a top frustration.
Sixty-four percent of providers say they are somewhat or extremely satisfied with their telehealth technology, but top recommendations for improvement include better integration with existing systems, better audio/video technology and a mobile app for patients.