Optum finds a part-rosy, part-jaundiced picture. Not much notice was taken of a survey on behalf of UnitedHealth Group’s Optum survey of 240 physicians, 75% of whom were in primary care with the remainder in specialty or urgent care. Most (65%) hadn’t used telehealth prior to the pandemic, yet shifted to 74% heavy to moderate use during it. Good times for telehealth providers of all types, secure and non-secured platforms. The problem, despite Optum’s optimistic headline in the release? Telehealth use predictably rolled back; doctors aren’t sticking with it–86% project now rare (<10%) to moderate (10-49%) usage in future.
Telehealth in use was primarily synchronous (real-time), and almost equally audio/video (88%) and phone only (80%). 30% used secure messaging. Patients also preferred phone to online, 86% to 51%, for scheduling. Most providers saw telehealth as convenient (69%), efficient (35%), and timely (29%). For patients, the convenience factor soared to 90%, with 47% happy they could have telehealth from home.
But provider frustrations were found to be substantial, with dissatisfaction over 50% in three key areas. 58% felt that they could not provide the level of care they want (58%), meet patient expectations (55%), or were frustrated with telehealth audio/video technology (50%). As to the last, 40% wanted better technology and 35% wanted EMR integration. Only 23% wanted a mobile app. 47% wanted training–for their patients. Only one in four said that job satisfaction and patient health improved.