The State of Telehealth: Providers and Patients Weigh In

COVID-19 drove a telehealth boom that led to more interaction and better outcomes for both providers and patients, according to a new State of Telehealth survey GoodRx conducted along with the American Telemedicine Association during the pandemic. Virtual healthcare visits will remain a popular option in a post-pandemic world, but many patients prefer a hybrid model of care that combines in-person with telehealth.

In the survey, many healthcare providers said they felt better about telehealth than they did before the pandemic. Among providers who used telehealth, 64% said they were more optimistic about telehealth compared to when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Of those who didn’t use telehealth, nearly half felt the same way. The survey included over 600 providers (doctors, nurses, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners).

A majority of providers also thought care had improved or remained the same with telehealth. Over 40% reported that telehealth care was better or much better than in-person care, while 37% said it was about equal to in-person care. However, no-shows may be more of a problem with telehealth visits: 45% said that telehealth no-show rates were higher or much higher than in-person rates.

There are a few reasons why providers might have rated telehealth care so highly. Over 70% of providers said that telehealth has made continuity of care better. And about 60% reported that telehealth has made adherence to medication and conversations around cost with their patients better. In addition, 41% said that telehealth is more secure than in-person visits.

So are healthcare consumers as happy with telehealth as providers? 

Seeing a provider remotely was a new experience for many consumer respondents. Almost half of the more than 1,000 consumers surveyed had used telehealth for the first time during the pandemic. Almost 60% preferred to see providers over video, while 27% preferred a phone call and 14% preferred text.

Even though they didn’t see their provider in the office, consumers reported little interruption in their care. On several measures, including cost, quality of care, and privacy, they said their experience with telehealth was no different than an in-person visit. 

They also noted that it was easier to schedule telehealth appointments and that they tended to spend more time with their providers through telehealth.

The most common reasons consumers saw providers through telehealth were behavioral or mental health care, chronic care treatment, and acute emergency care. 

Given these findings, it’s not a surprise that providers and patients both expect to continue using telehealth — though not necessarily at the expense of in-person appointments. Over 80% of healthcare providers said they planned to keep offering telemedicine. And over 60% of healthcare consumers said they planned to use telemedicine visits alongside in-person visits. 

While it’s tempting to view telehealth and in-person visits as two forms of care that compete against each other, it’s more likely that providers and patients will now have more choices when it comes to working together.

The editorial staff had no role in this post's creation.