As the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the world and small businesses across the country start to feel the economic squeeze of social distancing, private practices are turning to telemedicine in unprecedented numbers, according to a new survey.
The survey, which got responses from more than 600 private practice and 140 billing companies, found that 75 percent of respondents are currently using a telehealth option or intend to use one soon.
More concerning is the 9 percent of respondents who say their practice has closed and “many more” reported worries about their practices closing due to the drop in office visits because of statewide stay-at-home orders, the survey says.
The survey found that in mid-March 28 percent of respondents were only offering telemedicine while 63 percent were still performing on-site care. Most of the practices still performing on-site care expressed interest in options to move to hybrid or exclusively telemedicine-based care, the survey found.
By late-March, private practices were experiencing a 35 percent decline in patient volume, which raised the alarm around the inability of patients to access care and operational viability of private practices should the trend continue, the survey says.
Due to these concerns, many practices moved toward telemedicine options in mid-March with 41 percent of respondents saying they have begun offering telemedicine options, up from 22 percent in a previous 2018 survey. An additional 34 percent reported their attempts to adopt telemedicine options, the survey found.
Kareo, the technology platform that performed the survey, reported a 500 percent week-over-week increase in telehealth visits in the third week of March as well as an over 3,000 percent increase in telemedicine adoption, the survey says.
“Independent medical practices stand as the cornerstone of the U.S. healthcare system and are responsible for more than two-thirds of annual patient visits,” Dan Rodrigues, Founder and CEO of Kareo, says in the survey. “Yet our research shows that even doctors are not immune to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Telemedicine and the CARES Act provide critical lifelines to ensure independent practices remain available to their patients through this crisis.”