The trustworthiness of telemedicine: 6 key findings

While telemedicine is largely supported in the clinical spheres as a way to boost care convenience, alleviate the physician shortage and reduce unnecessary visits to the emergency room, the practice of virtual visits may face one significant hurdle: consumer buy-in.

According to a study by TechnologyAdvice Research, 65 percent of individuals surveyed said they would be somewhat or very unlikely to choose a virtual appointment.

"This is perhaps the largest issue that telemedicine vendors and healthcare providers will need to overcome,” said Cameron Graham, managing editor at TechnologyAdvice and author of the study. "If patients don't trust the diagnoses made during telemedicine calls, they may ignore the advice given, fail to take preventative steps or seek additional in-person appointments, which defeats the point of telemedicine."

Here are six key findings on consumers' views of telemedicine.

1. Three-quarters of individuals said they either would not trust a diagnosis made via telemedicine or would trust it less than a diagnosis made during an in-person visit.

2. Reluctance to use telemedicine appears to be less for younger patients and more for older patients. Seventeen percent of respondents between 18 and 24 years old said they wouldn't trust a virtual diagnosis. That number goes up to 24 percent for respondents between 25 and 44 years old.

3. More than half (54.1 percent) of respondents over 65 years old said they would not trust a virtual diagnosis.

4. Additionally, 65 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to use a virtual visit if they had first consulted with the physician in person.

5. Location of the virtual consultation also appears to influence consumer preference. For example, nearly 64 percent of individuals said they would be comfortable conducting a telemedicine consultation at home, while just 7.5 percent said they would be comfortable undergoing a consultation from a retail kiosk.

6. Key reasons individuals would schedule a telemedicine consultation include more convenient scheduling options, lower cost, less time spent in the waiting room and the ability to undergo the consultation at home.

The survey was conducted online between June 22 and June 24, 2015. It gathered responses from 504 adults.

More articles on telemedicine:

Telemedicine startup started by Uber co-founder raises $14M 
Kansas City brings telemedicine to City Hall 
Bill seeks to expand telehealth services coverage under Medicare by equating with in-person visits 

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