We normally don’t feature corporate or sponsored surveys, but are making an exception here as it demonstrates two trends: that hospital systems can’t fight consumer telehealth** anymore, and that the future mix of usage is starting to change. Teladoc’s/Becker’s Healthcare Hospital & Health Systems 2016 Consumer Telehealth Benchmark Survey projects that by 2018, 76 percent of health systems will adopt consumer telehealth (vs. site-to-site), double from 2016, and that most who have it will be expanding offerings. As a benchmark survey, it tracks services offered or plan to offer, organizational priorities, and goals.
An interesting part is how the mix of services under telehealth is evolving. Presently, the top three among current users are urgent care, primary care, and psychiatry/mental health. For new users, their priorities are ED/urgent care (45 percent), readmission prevention (42 percent), primary care, including internal medicine and pediatrics (42 percent), chronic condition management (41 percent). Nearly one in five (18 percent) plan to include cardiology services.
As implemented by health systems, telehealth has run into problems that were totally predictable and will provoke the ‘Duh?’ response from our Readers. From the report:
- They didn’t measure patient or physician satisfaction with their telehealth programs, even though improving patient satisfaction is a leading motivator for offering telehealth services.
- Gaining physician buy-in was cited by 78 percent of respondents, and rated as the #1 lesson learned
- The second most important? The importance of aligning telehealth initiatives with organizational goals (75 percent).
- Telehealth users also attach significant importance to working with a telehealth solution partner that provides a product roadmap.
- Securing reimbursement is an obstacle to expanding telehealth use.
The survey had 179 responses from primarily C-level hospital/health system executives, 60 percent non-profit and 40 percent for-profit. 52 percent of respondents were from the Midwest, 33 percent from the East and 15 percent from the West. The survey report is available by free download from Teladoc at the link ending the Hospitals & Health Networks article.
** Remote doctor-patient consults, not vital signs monitoring, but Teladoc (and American Well) have changed the terminology, at least in the US. The survey uses telehealth so this Editor will too for consistency, as much as it grates.