by Gus Iversen
, Editor in Chief | January 26, 2015
You do everything else online, why not visit with a doctor?
A new study from Harris Poll suggests that the majority of Americans are ready to take the dive into telehealth, and they want to do it via webcam.
The survey uncovered some topics of interest people have when it comes to telehealth. The convenience of an online consultation, plus the presumed cost savings, are key selling points. On average it can take 18.5 days to see a provider across the U.S., but the research suggests you can arrange an online consult in less than three minutes.
Predictably, the willingness for telehealth is dependent on age and the highest percentage of people in favor of it are young adults between ages 18-34. That number drops 10 percent as they get towards age 64, and patients 65 or older mostly object to telehealth, with only 41 percent of that population on board.
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Of course, no amount of telehealth and remote patient monitoring could entirely displace a physical visit to the doctor. Knowing where to draw that line is a crucial part of the conversation, and that line will probably move as more advances are made.
For common prescriptions, 70 percent of people surveyed would prefer video visits to get them filled, but only 27 percent would want allergy or asthma medication to be filled online.
Also, patients do not want to sacrifice selectivity. The study found that 88 percent of consumers want to hand pick their doctor instead of having them randomly assigned.
Figuring out how to meet the needs of patients via internet while continuing to offer the same level of care at a lower cost is the challenge of telehealth, but there is no small demand. The researchers said 17 million Americans would switch doctors if it meant they could take advantage of video visits.