Patients took up digital communication tools for the first time during the pandemic, with 63 percent saying they saw good or excellent care quality.
The evidence is mounting that telehealth and digital communication is here to stay, with the latest from Accenture showing 60 percent of patients will continue to access care via telehealth technology.
Virtual care access saw a boom at the start of the pandemic, with more medical providers offering access to care via the technology as a means to keep patients connected with their providers while out of the office. Telehealth proved helpful for COVID-19 symptom screenings, continuing chronic disease management, and helping to connect patients to other types of care.
These benefits have given rise to questions about telehealth’s place in the industry going forward. More specifically, to what extent would patients enjoy the quality of care delivered via telehealth and prefer it even post-COVID?
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The answer, according to survey responses from 2,700 patients in the US and similarly developed nations, is they were very much satisfied with virtual care quality.
Four in ten patients started using a new app or digital technology to stay connected to their providers at the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak. Those tools included video conference calls, online chat, and mHealth apps.
For seventy percent of those patients, video chats and telehealth care access were new to them.
Nonetheless, these patients rated their experiences well. Sixty-three percent of patients who used a video visit during the COVID-19 outbreak said they experienced good or excellent care quality.
Ninety percent of those using any type of digital health tool, not just video visits, for the first time during the pandemic rated their experience as good. Eighty percent of those who had used patient engagement technology before rated a good experience.
Specifically, patients liked digital health technology because it was convenient while still delivering personalized care.
Forty percent of patients said digital health tools were more convenient than traditional, in-person health, while 41 percent said they received quicker responses from their providers over telehealth. Forty-seven percent of patients said their communication with their providers was more personalized than in the office.
“Along with the move to virtual forms of care and communication came a sense of greater satisfaction with the care provided,” Brad Michel, Accenture North America Life Sciences lead, said in a statement.
“Many patients said they felt care was more personal, more convenient and timelier,” Michel added. “Rather than having to commute to a doctor’s office or treatment facility and undergo the stress of sitting in a waiting room for their turn, care was now being administered at home – in a setting, time and place where people felt most comfortable. A good many also said the information they received was better.”
What’s more, these digital technologies have engendered a greater sense of trust in the patient-provider relationship. Sixty percent of patients said their trust in their medical providers has increased, while about 50 percent reported increased trust in urgent care clinics and public health.
Forty-five and 44 percent of patients reported increased trust with pharmaceutical industries and medical device manufacturers, respectively.
Perhaps less talked about, telehealth and digital care access has been a boon for clinical trial engagement. While 77 percent of patients said the clinical trials in which they had enrolled prior to the COVID-19 outbreak had be postponed or canceled, trials that did continue hinged on telehealth and virtual care technologies.
Sixty-one percent of patients who remained in a clinical trial throughout the pandemic said they used some sort of digital communication tool or monitoring device.
“Increasing virtual communication and treatment options offers multiple benefits for clinical trials, as one third of all patients in trials reported that even before COVID-19, they had difficulty making appointments or physically getting to clinics for treatment,” Michel explained. “Patients want more video conferencing and fewer clinic visits, which would make clinical trials more convenient and accessible.”
This could likewise pave the way for the future, the researchers suggested. Even post-COVID, remote monitoring devices and digital communication tools may find a home in clinical trial engagement strategies.
Ultimately, this opens the door for future innovation in the patient engagement technology sector, according to Stuart Henderson, global Life Sciences lead for Accenture.
“The pandemic has shifted patient attitudes and expectations as they have embraced new digital tools. What we are seeing, and hearing is that virtual care is here to stay,” Henderson said.
“Companies need to invest people, time and money now to build on this momentum to expand and enhance the tools and platforms they use to communicate with and provide care for patients. But technology is not enough, as companies must also continue to engage patients directly to deliver on expectations.”
Source: Patient Engagementhit