How to improve patients' satisfaction with telehealth? Pair it with in-person care, survey suggests

Patients who had an in-person medical visit before speaking with their physician via telehealth were more likely to report satisfaction with their remote care experience, according to a Rock Health report.

Rock Health, a seed fund focused on digital health startups, surveyed nearly 4,000 adults in the U.S. in 2017 for its report on digital health adoption among healthcare consumers.

Here's how many respondents said they were "moderately satisfied" or "extremely satisfied" with their telehealth encounter, broken down by type of virtual care technology and whether they had a previous in-person visit with the same physician:

  • Video:
    • Previous in-person visit: 92 percent
    • No previous in-person visit: 53 percent
  • Phone call:
    • Previous in-person visit: 85 percent
    • No previous in-person visit: 56 percent
  • Picture text:
    • Previous in-person visit: 84 percent
    • No previous in-person visit: 50 percent
  • Text:
    • Previous in-person visit: 83 percent
    • No previous in-person visit: 46 percent
  • Email:
    • Previous in-person visit: 84 percent
    • No previous in-person visit: 47 percent

Part of this trend may be attributed to which demographics have most readily adopted telehealth. Overall, only 19 percent of Rock Health's survey respondents had used live video visits to connect with a physician.

The plurality of respondents — 42 percent — using this form of telehealth fell into the category of "worried well," or those in good general health, according to Rock Health. By contrast, aging adults (24 percent), vulnerable populations (18 percent) and chronically ill seniors (3 percent), made up much smaller proportions of telehealth users.

To view Rock Health's report, click here.

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