Todd Shryock, contributing author
Study shows satisfaction is high, but more to be done
A survey by medical software provider Kyruus of 1,000 adult patients found that nearly three quarters had tried virtual care during the COVID crisis and more than 75 percent were very or completely satisfied with their experience.
However, the results also suggest that healthcare organizations have an opportunity to enhance patient experience, acquisition, and retention by making virtual care scheduling and follow-up more seamless.
Not only did the majority of respondents rate their experiences with virtual care positively, but 50% also indicated they would be willing to switch providers to have virtual visits on a regular basis. The findings also uncovered two key areas of improvement for healthcare organizations: meeting patient demand for online scheduling—54% of respondents would prefer it—and enhancing post-visit communication. Less than half of respondents said they left their visits knowing what the next steps were and less than one-third received written or email follow-up—two of several gaps the survey responses revealed around closing the loop after virtual visits.
The most commonly cited uses for virtual care were wellness check-ins (41%) and care for chronic conditions (30%). COVID-19-related symptoms represented only 14% of responses.
Other key findings include:
Patients want to utilize virtual care for a broad range of needs moving forward: Patients reported being very or extremely likely to utilize virtual care for a wide variety of appointments in the future, with the top three being wellness check-ins (60%), surgery/procedure-related visits (58%), and visits for COVID-19-related symptoms (58%).
Patients conveyed high demand for online scheduling: While only 30% of all respondents booked their virtual visits online, 54% would prefer this booking method in the future. Online is the clear preference among both Gen Xers at 72% and Millennials at 64% (versus 38% for Baby Boomers).
Despite high demand for virtual care, awareness about how to access it is relatively low: Less than half of respondents said they understood clearly how they could access virtual care visits again in the future after their visits were over.
Patients still plan to utilize virtual care even if they have to pay out-of-pocket: Almost half of respondents said they would still utilize virtual care to some degree in the future even if their insurance does not cover it: 25% whenever possible and 21% on a limited basis.
“The strain that COVID-19 placed on patient access propelled an unprecedented rise in virtual care availability and adoption,” said Dr. Erin Jospe, MD, chief medical officer at Kyruus in a statement. “This survey shows that patients have not only embraced it as a short-term alternative to in-person visits, but that they also now seek it as a permanent part of their healthcare.”