April 9, 2020
More people report using telemedicine now than five months ago finds a new YouGov study conducted for Cheddar. Trust for remote health services also jumped, according to the survey.
From April 3 to April 6, YouGov polled 1,274 adults online in the U.S. regarding their interactions with and perception of telemedicine as a followup to the same questions asked in November.
YouGov did not poll the same respondents, nor specifically include a question about coronavirus as a prompt, so there may not be a direct connection to the coronavirus outbreak. But the survey did provide respondents an opportunity to write in what factors would lead someone to consider telemedicine, and "coronavirus," "pandemic," "social distancing," and "COVID-19" came up frequently, based on Cheddar's review of the answers.
The latest study shows that 15 percent of the new respondents say they have used a telemedicine service, up from 12 percent of those asked in November. While an increase of 3 percentage points may not seem significant, the level of comfort and trust in these services rose more considerably.
Most Americans now say they are comfortable with the concept of Telemedicine — 74 percent compared to 64 percent in November.
Trust also grew to 61 percent compared to 51 percent five months ago when asked. And when looking at some of the top concerns about telehealth — misdiagnosis and quality of care — saw a drop in the number of people citing them as reasons from 60 percent to 47 percent; and from 56 percent to 45 percent, respectively.
When asked to say why they felt uncomfortable with receiving care over the phone or online, respondents' answers ranged from "I'm not tech-savvy," to "fear of telephone," fear of online privacy, and concerns about not getting a full exam.
"How can a doctor check my heartbeat over the phone, or my breathing," wrote one person.
President Donald Trump and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have promoted the use of telehealth and virtual health as a way to receive medical advice and treatment since early March.
Governor Cuomo called on the New York Department of Health to direct insurers to develop telehealth programs, while President Trump signed emergency funding health packages to waive telehealth reimbursement restrictions.
"We are encouraging people to use telemedicine," Cuomo has said. "When the anxiety is high, people have some symptoms, they are anxious — is this coronavirus or is this just a flu, is this just a cold?"
Some companies in the industry have seen a huge increase in demand for their business. Teladoc, for example, reported 15,000 requests in a day on March 11 — with more than half of visits that month coming from new patients.
By the end of the year, virtual service visits could reach 900 million as a result of the novel coronavirus, according to Forrester.