Since the beginning of the pandemic-driven rise in the adoption of telemedicine, data regarding the attitudes and uses of telemedicine have largely remained scattered. To bring order to the chaos, Doximity, a network for professional medical providers including physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, has reviewed recently published studies and conducted their own research. Now ready to present their findings, a comprehensive report was released earlier this month to examine how the rate of telemedicine adoption among healthcare providers and patients has evolved from pre-COVID 19 days. Finally, a single source is available to translate information chaos into meaningful, useable trends that can help increase understanding among healthcare analysts, stakeholders, providers, and patients. Overall, the authors believe that a significant proportion of both patients and providers will expect telemedicine to remain readily available after the pandemic ends—which would require lawmakers, insurance companies, and other stakeholders to update regulations that previously stymied widespread adoption of telemedicine.
Among the key findings:
* Compared to pre-pandemic days, telemedicine utilization rates have increased by 57 percent among all Americans and 77 percent among those with chronic illness.
* Roughly one-quarter of the respondents felt comfortable with using telemedicine and plan to continue after the pandemic ends. Doximity expects these figures to rise as more hospitals and doctors add telemedicine to their arsenals.
* According to various studies, the percentage of Americans who felt that telemedicine provided care at or above the level of in-office visits varied from 28 percent to 67 percent; those with chronic illnesses were generally more enthusiastic about telemedicine.
* Compared to rural regions, the adoption of telemedicine is significantly higher in urban areas, especially in metropolitan sectors that were already regarded as innovative, high-tech facilities. This finding contradicts expectations that the much-improved access to care in rural areas would dominate growth.
* The usage rate of smartphones among White households is similar to that of Black and Hispanic households; in contrast, the distribution of computers and laptops reflects the socioeconomic differences between these households. Since most patients can consult a provider through their smartphones, access to care is becoming more equitable among various demographic groups.
In conclusion, the authors of this study suggest that the pandemic is creating a tipping point for the addition of telemedicine as a routine option in healthcare, and both providers and patients plan to continue using this technology beyond the pandemic season. Fortunately, as telemedicine becomes a “must have” option in healthcare, stakeholders and lawmakers are already working to update regulations and lower barriers to make it so.