Patients support use of telehealth from home via videoconferencing, but hurdles such as the consumer's age and distance from a clinic remain, according to a study published this month in Telemedicine and e-Health.
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic surveyed 263 patients to find out if they would be willing to meet with a provider via telemedicine using their own communication tools. Of those, 38 percent said they were ''very likely'' to see their provider through a video chat, and 33.8 percent said they were ''not at all likely.''
A majority, 75 percent, had broadband access; but less than half, 38 percent, had a Web cam, according to the report. Only 20 percent said they had experience with a video call, and the respondents who did not have prior experience overwhelmingly said they would prefer to see their physician face-to-face.
Age was one factor in whether a respondent would accept a video call. Those willing to use telemedicine were on average 55 years old, while those unwilling to do so were around 64 years old, the researchers said.
In addition, patients who lived father away from a clinic were more willing to accept a video invite.
Some barriers that would need to be overcome, as seen by the study responses, include technology assistance for those who have never participated on a video call; the preference among patients for face-to-face interaction vs. video; and distance from a provider, the report's authors said.
"If the obstacles to creating and offering a reliable video appointment service can be overcome ... there exists an opportunity to co-create the broader experience and availability of video appointments," the researchers said.
Consumer interest in telemedicine is rising overall. In a survey published earlier this year by Software Advice, 75 percent of patients who have not used telemedicine said they are "moderately interested" in doing so. In addition, only 16 percent of those respondents said they would prefer to seek care for a minor ailment at an emergency room if they also had access to telehealth services.
Meanwhile, another previous survey by Harris Poll for telehealth company American Well saw 64 percent of patients saying they are willing to consider a video chat with their doctor instead of an in-person visit.
To learn more:
- read the study (.pdf)