A new report from researchers at the University of Michigan takes a comprehensive look at telehealth trends, adoption, access, cost, and quality and user experience. The report is a product of research work by the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation’s Telehealth Research Incubator and researchers at the University of Michigan.
Covid-19 has resulted in a huge increase in telehealth. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, less than 1% of healthcare doctors and patients had used telehealth services. However, the researcher points out that telehealth has been used for the most part as a substitute for face-to-face care.
Some notable key findings from the report:
- “Smaller and rural practices have lower rates of telehealth use.
- Compared with non-users, patients using direct-to-consumer telehealth are more likely to be female, non-elderly, live in an urban area, and have fewer comorbidities.
- Patients who are older, African American, need an interpreter, have Medicaid as their primary insurance, and live in a ZIP code with low broadband access were less likely to use video visits
- Patients living in rural ZIP codes were less likely to use video visiting, low broadband access, not just rurality, appears to more strongly predict the likelihood of using video visiting.
- As individual patient demographic, socioeconomic, and geographic factors will influence the likelihood of using video visits, many patients will face multifactorial barriers to care. By predicting the probability that each patient will use video visiting, the overall probability that the patient population of a particular health system, county, or state will use video visiting can be determined.
- When all costs are taken into account, video visits and in-person visits cost about the same, and patients were no more likely to cancel or not show up for a video visit than in-person visits.”
“Patients living in rural ZIP codes were less likely to use video visits, low broadband access” indicates a need to investigate “telehealth dessert” (see my research on pharmacy dessert here, here, and here). The telehealth dessert would be an interesting area of research as we look at the growing adoption strategies of telehealth.
While covid-19 has accelerated the pace of telehealth adoption, there are many unmet needs and issues to address (see here), but one thing is for sure, telehealth is here to stay and grow!
Research snapshots from the Telehealth Research Incubator at https://ihpi.umich.edu/sites/default/files/2021-08/Telehealth_Research_Snapshots_Databook_2021.pdf