In-person visits are still perceived more positively than virtual visits when it comes to the quality, outcomes, convenience and usefulness of telehealth, according to a soon-to-be-released healthcare survey of more than 6,000 consumers in the USA, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia and Germany.
The survey was conducted by research and consulting giant EY, and has a lot more to say about the state of healthcare and health IT today.
EY gave Health informatics news a preview of the survey results in an interview with its global health leader, Aloha McBride.
Q. What have consumers been saying about healthcare recently and how do they want telehealth to work for them?
A. In the field of health it is very important to pay attention to the consumer. In the work of the EY team around the world, we see that healthcare is shifting focus towards value-based care and procurement, and yet it seems that the views of the consumer or patient are being left out of the equation.
To dig deeper into this and better understand what consumers value in healthcare, in early 2023 we surveyed more than 6,000 consumers in total, across six countries: the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, England and Germany.
Our main goal was to understand personal preferences and what matters most to consumers when it comes to their health and care. We look at it through the three different lenses of people, process and place.
However, given the big investments in things like virtual care and generative artificial intelligence, we also wanted to understand the consumer’s comfort level with emerging technologies. That’s why we consider care delivery modalities, such as face-to-face and virtual care, AI and remote monitoring.
We also show consumer preferences for telehealth and willingness to pay, medical innovation, and data sharing.
In general, three characteristics of health value stand out. Not surprisingly, consumers value access to care when needed and relief from pain and anxiety, but they also value having a cost-effective health care system. This is perhaps a little unexpected: while healthcare is very personal, consumers also see value in terms of social benefit and economic efficiency.
For telehealth services, in all markets, face-to-face visits were perceived more positively than virtual visits in relation to quality, outcomes, convenience and usefulness.
Consumers strongly prefer face-to-face visits as they allow healthcare professionals to examine or see health status (84%), develop a deeper personal connection with their doctor (77%) and resolve their care concerns ( 67%). Nearly three out of four consider that the quality of face-to-face care is superior to that of virtual care (71%).
However, 44% of consumers would consider a virtual primary care consultation over an in-person visit. Specifically, consumers would try a virtual appointment for prescription renewals (67%), test results (61%), to save time (57%), and for a minor illness (56%). Consumers were less willing (12%) to use virtual for chronic disease consultations.
These results lead us to examine the experience and integration of virtual care in the care and health continuum. Specifically, healthcare organizations may want to rethink the design of the virtual care experience, how it fits into care pathways, the effectiveness of virtual care training and physician selection, as well as measures of results of virtual care for patients and doctors (a recent study indicated that doctors prefer to provide face-to-face care as well).
Perhaps most clearly, our survey results emphasize the need for health systems to truly understand their consumers from a psychographic perspective of beliefs, values, and goals. Healthcare organizations may need to reconsider their investments in this area to ensure that they are designing products and services tailored to the needs of their populations.
Q. Many experts say that The future of telehealth is hybrid care: the combination of telemedicine and face-to-face treatment. Based on your experiences with clients and your knowledge of the industry, what do you think this will look like?
A. Hybrid care integrates digital, virtual, remote monitoring, augmented reality, virtual reality and face-to-face care, among other modalities, throughout the healthcare journey. These are the tools by which care can be decentralized and delivered where and when needed, and in ways that make sense for a person’s lifestyle, clinical needs, and social preferences.
Hybrid care models use knowledge about a person’s life, such as their comfort with technology, their activity level, health literacy and family support, as well as their health status, to develop integrated care pathways. These seamlessly blend face-to-face, digital, virtual, community and social care in combinations that make the most sense for the person.
For a tech-savvy patient who excels at self-management and prefers digital communications, this can mean a care experience that optimizes the use of exception-based passive and digital remote monitoring. Only when the patient’s clinical risk exceeds a certain threshold would an intervention be flagged and activated.
Beyond the tailored experience, hybrid care models help ensure that patients are directed to the most appropriate care setting and are served by the appropriate clinical resources. Hybrid models can provide more efficient staffing models and flexibility for physicians, improve access, and support better use of capital infrastructure.
Virtual command centers, for example, allow clinical teams to manage multiple care pathways for thousands of patients while integrating and communicating with face-to-face care teams at the point of care. This can include activities as diverse as virtual emergency department triage, monitoring by clinical chatbots, or virtual home health visits triggered by incoming patient biometrics.
Integrated and hybrid care models offer the possibility of improved patient engagement, more personalized and accurate care with greater staffing flexibility and operational efficiency for health systems. However, as we found in our survey, designing and orchestrating hybrid care models requires a significant understanding of the patient population, their health needs, preferences, behaviors, and social risks.
Q. You say that healthcare needs to move beyond digital innovation into the world of big data and smart technology infrastructure, with the human experience at the center. How can this improve patient and provider experiences, improve outcomes and reduce costs?
A. As health systems around the world embrace integrated care ecosystems, we believe a new approach to health information architecture is needed to gather, create, connect, and share data and insights. For this to be successful, it is essential that the data is sharable, and this means common or compatible standards, semantics and structure.
Data is emerging as a major capital asset. All types of data, including genomic, clinical, demographic, social and behavioral data, will be captured and used throughout life and used by numerous people for different permissible purposes across time and space.
As a result, information architecture must be fit for purpose. This should take the form of an “infostructure” of hybrid cloud digital health platforms to enable data flow. Also, a key requirement is that the underlying information architecture separates the data layer from the transaction layer and the logic layer.
With so much data available from across the healthcare ecosystem, we can change the delivery of care to truly keep people well.
A human-centered approach to healthcare coupled with emerging technologies such as generative artificial intelligence and advanced analytics will transform the experience of receiving and delivering care. Administrative tasks can be automated and technology enables early identification of impending clinical and social risk and can prevent a patient from progressing into a costly and painful crisis.
Care teams can use data insights to design care that reflects the reality of how a person lives, their challenges and preferences, and to create an engaging experience that promotes adherence to the care plan.
Applying this knowledge at the population level allows health systems to micro-segment their clients. Segmentation can support greater accuracy in demand forecasting, investing in targeted care programs and campaigns, as well as modeling required staffing, appointment types, and supplies.
Ultimately, this infostructure supports cost reduction by enabling proactive decisions and actions that make the most of available data to maintain healthy populations, efficient operations, and coordinated care across the community.
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Healthcare IT News is a publication of HIMSS Media.
A new EY survey reveals that consumer preferences for telehealth services are rapidly changing, especially for younger generations who are more eagerly embracing the technologic innovations. The study highlights dissatisfaction of the current healthcare system as the main driver behind the shift to telehealth, further emphasized by the need for convenience and accessibility of care.
As experts in the full stack tech arena, Ikaroa has seen first-hand the success of telehealth platforms that support improved patient outcomes, allowing both providers and patients to access an array of medical services without sacrificing convenience. From remote visits to video calls, the ease of use and accessibility of modern telehealth technology makes it the perfect solution for medical professionals faced with the struggle of providing quality care.
Telehealth has come a long way since its earliest days and technology is expected to continue advancing in the near future. This is great news for both health care providers and consumers, who can now reap the benefits of remote options such as MyChart or Zoom. From diagnostics and remote monitoring to lab tests, telehealth allows medical practitioners to provide preventative medicine and management of acute and chronic conditions.
The EY survey also concluded that consumer preferences for telehealth services were largely driven by cost, convenience, and trust. For example, those who are now relying on telehealth services to manage chronic conditions appreciate the ability to access their doctors from home and save money on transportation costs.
The rising popularity of telehealth services speaks to the future of health care. The convenience and accessibility provided by technology gives healthcare providers the opportunity to reach remote areas, while the cost-savings benefit patients by providing access to their doctors without having to be there in person.
Ikaroa is dedicated to helping medical providers and insurance companies provide better services for their members and customers through innovative technologies. We’re proud to be part of this new wave of telehealth that revolutionizes how we care for ourselves and how health care professionals are better equipped to serve their patients.