Telehealth is here to stay, survey shows. How should the industry adapt?

Telehealth use skyrocketed early in the COVID-19 pandemic, accounting for a significant share of all doctors’ appointments at its peak. And while virtual visits have since dipped in volume, telehealth still supports millions of appointments each year. But will the trend continue?

Data from a Phreesia survey completed by nearly 2,000 patients suggests that it will. In 2022, 36% of patients who checked in for a doctor’s appointment on Phreesia’s platform reported having had a virtual healthcare visit in the past six months. Satisfaction was high, with 71% of those recent telehealth users saying they were very or extremely satisfied with virtual visits as a care option.

More than 7 in 10 patients said they felt comfortable discussing new prescriptions (72%) and health issues (75%) on virtual visits, and 59%% rated their doctor very good or excellent at addressing their health concerns. And importantly, 84% of recent telehealth users said they remained somewhat, very or extremely likely to use virtual healthcare visits in the next 12 months, citing flexibility and saved time as the top reasons why.

But telehealth has other advantages, too, Klick Health’s Mark McConaghy, SVP, Strategy and Chris Millsom, Group VP, Activation Strategy explained. Its affordability, ease of access and ability to make patients feel comfortable discussing sensitive topics are all reasons they expect it to gain popularity in the coming years.

Telehealth “helps patients have difficult conversations in a setting where they feel safe,” McConaghy said. “In a telehealth consultation, you’re face-to-face in a place you’re familiar and comfortable with. It’s no longer this situation where you may feel subservient to the doctor—you feel like you’re equals talking about your health.”

“You’re absolutely going to see telehealth continue to be a prime driver of healthcare for a lot of people,” he added.

The change in where care is happening requires a response. With telehealth set to remain a key part of the care mix, companies that focus their point-of-care efforts solely on in-office materials and messaging will fail to reach some patients. Instead, they need to embrace digital engagement solutions that can reach the right patients no matter where they are.

At the same time, “there are some really exciting spaces that brands can take advantage of as these offerings evolve,” Millsom noted—including the opportunity to leverage electronic health records to provide personalized resources before, during and after telehealth appointments.

The survey provides insights into what materials patients are looking for. Asked what resources they would be interested in receiving in relation to telehealth appointments, patients listed medication information, patient support programs and doctor discussion guides as their top choices.

And the way Millsom sees it, supplying these resources at the point of care can help accelerate the time to prescription and improve medication adherence.

Telehealth providers are “seeing this kind of opportunity as a way to deliver better care overall,” he said.

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