Perceptions of Telehealth Use Quickly Shifting During
The coronavirus pandemic has completely transformed everyday routines worldwide, forcing people to quickly adapt to new, and often confusing, aspects of life. Fortunately, technology has played a sizable role in helping people to maintain as close to a sense of normalcy as possible.
Telehealth, or video chats with healthcare professionals, has been specifically helpful in ensuring that people have a safe, efficient way to connect with their HCPs while receiving the information and support they need. In fact, 48% of respondents, in a Health Union survey of 2,214 people living with chronic health concerns, said they either had or plan to have a telehealth appointment since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. This survey, which was fielded April 14-17, was the second of a series of “snapshots in time” that track the perspectives and health behaviors of people with chronic conditions throughout the pandemic.
That 48% is a notable increase – more than double – from the 23% of respondents from Health Union’s first COVID-19 survey (fielded in March) who said they either had or planned to have a telehealth appointment. With the number of respondents who have canceled or postponed in-person HCP visits increasing from 47% to 57% between the two surveys, it is clear telehealth has quickly become a favorable, and possibly necessary, alternative for HCP communication.
In fact, a community participant within Blood-Cancer.com, one of Health Union’s 27 chronic condition-specific online health communities, recounted recently having three telemedicine calls with various providers. The participant noted that each conversation was “relaxed,” “informative and casual” and “almost like they were visiting in my home.”
For the one-third of respondents who said they used telehealth for the first time during this pandemic, this is a whole new frontier. For many, telehealth is a passable alternative for the time being. Nearly half of respondents said they are or would be comfortable using telehealth right now but would like to return to face-to-face HCP visits in the future.
While only 5% of respondents said they have no interest in trying telehealth at this time, more than a quarter said they want to continue using telehealth for routine condition management after the pandemic subsides. When comparing those who have used telehealth to those who haven’t, it appears that experience with telehealth is related to the desire to use it in the future. Respondents who have used these virtual visits were 75% more likely than those who haven’t used them to say they want to use telehealth in the future.
Comments from within Health Union’s various communities point to potential reasons why people living with chronic health conditions have found telehealth appointments favorable, including ease of scheduling and more one-on-one time. One RheumatoidArthritis.net user said opting for a virtual appointment was “so much easier than trying to negotiate a day and doctor in chronic pain and traffic.” Another, from Psoriatic-Arthritis.com, said “it almost felt like I had more time than I would have during an in-person appointment.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean everybody is excited about diving into telehealth. Another Psoriatic-Arthritis.com user said, “Oh God that type of appointment would fill me with utter anxiety and horror. I would rather not bother unless it was urgent.”
Respondents for wave two of Health Union’s COVID-19 Consumer Attitudes and Health Behaviors Survey were recruited from the company’s portfolio of online health communities.
Health Union is fielding several waves of data to capture snapshots in time of consumer attitudes and behaviors as this global pandemic continues to evolve. Please contact our business development team or fill out the form below if you are interested in the full results – or condition-specific results – of the survey.