By: ERIN DIETSCHE
A Deloitte survey of 624 primary care and specialty care doctors, which found only 14 percent said they have video visit capabilities, also provides suggestions about how hospitals can approach telehealth adoption.
Virtual care receives plenty of attention in the healthcare world. It’s hard not to hear about how telehealth is convenient for consumers and improves access to care, particularly for patients in rural areas.
The 2018 Deloitte Survey of US Physicians, which includes responses from 624 primary care and specialty care doctors, found that clinicians aren’t blind to these and the other benefits of telemedicine. Sixty-six percent of surveyed physicians said improved patient access to care is a benefit of virtual care technology. Fifty-two percent listed better patient satisfaction, and 45 percent cited staying connected with patients and their caregivers.
However, while the advantages are clear, adoption is lagging. Only 14 percent of doctors said they have video visit capabilities, and 18 percent of the rest of doctors plan to add such tools within the next year or two.
Why is adoption low?
The survey asked doctors to list their reasons, assuming they received satisfactory reimbursement and didn’t have to overcome regulatory or licensing hurdles. The physicians gave a variety of responses, from worries about potential medical errors (36 percent) to concerns about maintaining patients’ private information (33 percent). Additionally, 35 percent of respondents said their workplace simply doesn’t offer virtual care technologies.
The 556 respondents who see benefits in virtual care were also questioned about what they would need to increase the adoption of telemedicine. One of the top answers was interoperability. Sixty-seven percent said they want their technologies to be able to talk to each other. Fifty-one percent want training on the virtual care technologies, while 28 percent desire improved wireless capabilities to support large video feeds.
The Deloitte survey makes numerous suggestions about how hospitals and health systems can approach telehealth adoption.
Embracing virtual care, it notes, starts with asking the proper questions. For instance, what problems can telemedicine solve that traditional care approaches cannot? Which patient populations should we as a system specifically target? How will telehealth be integrated with our existing care programs?
For healthcare organizations looking at adopting or expanding virtual care offerings, it’s key also key to ensure the workforce is on board. Staff members and physicians should see telehealth as a means to advance quality, improve cost-effectiveness and create a better patient experience, the survey says.
In terms of the technology itself, health systems must develop the proper infrastructure to support their long-term goals. By encouraging experts to weigh in on clinical process design, workflow and integration, hospitals will ultimately have an easier time integrating telemedicine into their overall care delivery process, according to the report.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.