Patients like virtual primary care, but there's still work to be done on education, Elevance Health study shows

As more patients adapt to using telehealth, those who've tried virtual primary care are largely left feeling satisfied, according to a new survey.

Elevance Health, formerly Anthem, commissioned The Harris Poll to survey 5,000 adults about their attitudes toward virtual primary care. Of those who had used virtual primary care before, 94% said they were satisfied.

In addition, 79% said they felt virtual primary care enabled them to take a greater role in managing their own health.

"I think the biggest takeaway is that it's being used by a broad range of people," Rajeev Ronanki, president of digital platforms at Elevance Health, told Fierce Healthcare. "It's improving access to care across the board, and it's proving very convenient for consumers to use."

The survey found that, overall, 73% find virtual primary care appealing or like it. However, only about half (48%) of those surveyed were already familiar with the term, which suggests there is more room for virtual primary care providers to reach patients.

Ronanki said consumers may not understand the right time to use virtual care or how it fits into a broader care journey, so payers and virtual care companies should make the pitch clearer.

"I think there's more work to be done to educate consumers about how it fits into the continuum of care," Ronanki said.

One of the areas where virtual primary care holds significant promise, according to the survey, is managing chronic conditions. While most of those surveyed (82%) said they feel their health is good overall, 63% said they have a chronic illness of some kind.

About two-thirds of those who have a chronic condition (62%) said they believe using virtual primary care could allow them to take a greater role in managing their own needs.

In addition, the survey found that people with a chronic illness were more likely to be familiar with or have used virtual primary care before.

"You, in fact, can use virtual care as a first line of defense," Ronanki said.