Until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, telemedicine was an idea that sounded good on paper but was struggling to make it to prime time. But once the pandemic lockdowns went into place earlier this year, patients and providers turned to telemedicine in increasing numbers for a safer way to receive healthcare.
As a result, organizations that were either planning to implement a telemedicine program or had the beginnings of a program in place ramped up quickly to accommodate their patients’ needs.
A survey on patient perceptions of telemedicine from Press Ganey found that providers in the US have shifted at least one-third of in-person care to telemedicine. Other findings included:
- Although telemedicine visits peaked at 37% of all encounters in early May of 2020, they leveled out to about 15% of all visits by mid-August. However, 15% is still a significant increase from the 1% baseline prior to the pandemic.
- Telemedicine visits still ranked as high or higher than in-person visits, even across specialties.
- Patients think their provider is more attentive during telemedicine visits than during in-person visits.
- Issues with scheduling and online connections can affect patient satisfaction. While 89% of the survey respondents would recommend their provider after a telemedicine visit, the number who would recommend a video visit dropped to 76%.
Press Ganey made the following recommendations for telemedicine improvement based on the survey results:
- Establish a central resource team to scale operations for the telemedicine program
- Optimize tech for video visits
- Develop the capabilities to involve all specialties in telemedicine.