Apr 1, 2022 12:30:00 PM | 7 Min Read

Are Patients Satisfied With Telehealth?

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Vitel Health
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Are Patients Satisfied With Telehealth?

The COVID-19 pandemic gave healthcare as a whole the ability to dive directly into the telehealth frontier. While virtual visits were primarily a contingency two years ago, they've now become a standard of practice across the country. More patients than ever before are using virtual visits, and telehealth services are integrated into doctors' offices across the globe.

However, with this huge surge in telehealth, are patients happy with the technology? More doctors report satisfaction with telehealth and all that it offers their offices:

  • More convenience for patients being able to see their doctor remotely
  • Better data management
  • Improved patient and payer billing
  • Faster, more reliable patient intake
  • Broader connection to specialists, medical suppliers, and other medical services 

But how do these services rank with patients? Implementing a telehealth platform should benefit you and your patients, so what are patients saying about their experiences with telehealth platforms?

How do patients qualify “good” telehealth experiences?

Your patients aren't aware of everything your telehealth platform does behind the scenes. They only see the result: better billing and data collection, shorter wait times, and the ease with which they can see a doctor in your practice. You can consider a patient's experience across several different vectors that they can self-report on:

  • Billing
  • Intake and wait times
  • Quality of the visit: were their needs met?
  • Improved access to a physician

The primary driver of virtual visits and the boom in telehealth was the need for remote access. Not only did the pandemic present a scenario where virtual interaction was preferable to in-person, but it also showed how much of our communities are underserved because of poor access. Patients with chronic pain conditions, for instance, often have decreased mobility. For them, getting in the car or the bus to cross town and stand around and wait for a doctor is excruciating. Many avoid it and suffer as a result.

Virtual visits offer better access to elderly and chronic pain patients, patients with disabilities, as well as those who live rurally. In these groups, the satisfaction with telehealth is relatively high.

Why do patients use telehealth services?

The primary reason people use telehealth boils down to convenience. Whether the underlying cause is pain, mobility problems, or distance, most people who see their doctors virtually simply do so because it's easier. For patients who have an infectious disease — COVID-19 or not — seeing a physician at a distance is preferable for everyone involved.

Some patients need urgent but not emergent care: parents whose children have a fever or stomach bug in the middle of the night. A virtual visit to get medicine prescribed is far better than dragging a sick child out of bed.

Chronic care patients are pleased with telehealth as well; seeing their physician remotely to report changes in pain levels or prescription changes is a huge benefit.

Finally, we have to consider how telehealth changes on the physician side benefits patients. Better billing and office management, automated appointment reminders, and faster intake are all aspects of telehealth that directly help your patients.

Across all spectrums, patients who interface virtually with their doctor seem pretty pleased with these services, though the numbers are down from 2020. While more patients use virtual visits, some surveys indicate that the quality of these visits has declined.

Why is perceived quality down?

Some surveyed patients indicated difficulty with the necessary technology — mostly those patients 65 and older. For others, it was the feeling that their doctor was impersonal when met virtually, something the physician can seek to improve.

While patients report that it's faster and easier to see a doctor virtually — which they love — limitations on technology might make them prefer office visits. Effective communication will be hampered if you don't have a good connection and quality equipment.

Finally, there's simply the idea that as we get more familiar and comfortable with a new concept, we allow ourselves to slip. A doctor using telehealth services in 2020 wanted to make the best impression and serve their patients as well as possible in light of the pandemic. As virtual visits become commonplace, the need to shine diminishes.

Telehealth overall improves patient and physician lives

Over 76% of surveyed patients in 2021 stated that they were extremely happy that telehealth expanded patient care. For these individuals, seeing their doctor virtually was a lifeline. Similarly, for patients with chronic conditions, it's highly preferable to opt for virtual visits rather than driving to their doctor's office at regular intervals. Overall, patients are happy with telehealth but not as satisfied as in 2020.

As a physician, you can improve telehealth visits by working on your interactions with patients. Be warm, ask questions, let them talk — treat virtual visits even more warmly than you would an office visit. Technology blunts emotion, so work on being as personable as possible. Improve the quality of your equipment and your internet connection — you don't want any information lost due to technical issues.

Finally, partner with a trusted name in the telehealth community — ViTel. Our platform brings the data-driven technology you need with AI-based intake and a robust network of medical providers right to your fingertips. We strive to ensure a quality experience for physicians and patients alike, and we'd love to show you how. Contact us today and see the difference ViTel can make in your practice.

ViTel Access

Topics: Telehealth, Practice Management

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