Who's afraid of the virtual care boom?

Small physician practices view the rise in virtual care models, including telemedicine and other remote consultations, as a threat to their business, a new analysis published in the National Library of Medicine suggests.

For the study, University of Colorado-Denver researchers analyzed how 270 small healthcare businesses perceived the shift to virtual care and how it affected sustainability. The survey included responses from 82 medical clinics, 99 small physician offices and 89 pharmacies.

The analysis found that the perception of the remote and virtual care boom varied among the three groups. Small physician offices had the most negative perception of remote and virtual care, believing that the boom came with negative effects, including a decline in revenue and a threat to sustainability. 

"We see small physician offices struggle to keep up with the changes COVID-19 has brought," University of Colorado-Denver researcher Jiban Khuntia, PhD, said in a news release. "While they are ready to adapt to the changes virtual care models bring, the revenue stream isn't what it used to be with in-person visits."

In contrast, medical clinics had a positive perception of remote and virtual care, saying they will support the current business model and that they aren't a threat to sustainability. The researchers said the findings from pharmacies were not statistically significant. 

The study authors said their findings on the perceptions small healthcare businesses have toward remote care will give policymakers a better understanding of the pros and cons of rapidly adopting remote and virtual care. 


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