The onset of COVID-19 has doubled the percentage of American adults who have tried telemedicine as an alternative to a doctor’s office visit, according to a survey by independent marketing, advertising, and public relations agency Mower.
The study, which surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults from April 8-10, 2020, regarding their comfort level returning to various common activities when COVID-19 restrictions ease, revealed while only 16% had used telemedicine in the past, another 17% have tried it for the first time since the crisis began. Another 52% reported while they still have not taken advantage of the service they would if the need arose.
Availability is also on the rise, the release says.
While 20% of Americans report their own healthcare provider and/or their child’s already offered telemedicine before the pandemic, another 20% say their providers have added the service since the crisis began.
Providing telemedicine options reflects well on providers, the study says. Among respondents who indicate it’s a new service, 58% say the addition shows their provider is taking the situation seriously, 51% see it as a sign of commitment to patients, 46% believe it means the provider is modern and flexible, and 40% call it a smart business decision.
Patients over the age of 65 are significantly more likely not to know whether their provider offers telemedicine (53% compared to 32% of adults overall). However, among those 65+ who indicate their provider began offering telemedicine during COVID-19, 86% appreciate having the option to consult their doctor remotely, the study says.
“Telemedicine is one aspect of life that is likely to become more commonplace as we ease into a new normal following the COVID-19 pandemic and as Americans continue to approach daily activities with more caution,” says Maggie Hooper, management supervisor and Mower’s Healthcare Specialty lead. “Healthcare providers should consider adding or enhancing telemedicine services, including clear communication on how patients can best access, use and pay for their virtual appointments.”
The study also revealed only one in three Americans, about 34% would feel comfortable going to a regular doctor/dentist appointment on the first day COVID-19 restrictions ease. Another 29% would feel comfortable by Day 30 and 18% would wait until Day 60.