Patients Prefer Telehealth for Primary Care, Mental Health Needs

Mark Melchionna

October 31, 2022

A recent report shows that amid a return to in-person care, telehealth use has dropped among some populations, but it is still a popular modality for accessing primary and mental healthcare.

October 31, 2022 - A recent report shows that although in-person care is the preferred channel of care, telehealth use remains highly used among young adults and those engaging in primary care and mental health services.

Published by Stericycle Communication Solutions, the report was created in collaboration with Ipsos. It is based on a survey of 1,004 adults, 18 and older, from the continental US, Alaska, and Hawaii, conducted between July 5 and 8.

In May 2022, over two years after the start of the pandemic, the FAIR Health Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker reported an overall 10.2 percent increase in telehealth use.

But while evaluating patient preferences related to healthcare access, the 2022 Stericycle Communication Solutions US Consumer Trends in Patient Engagement Survey shows that telehealth use has dropped amid a return to in-person healthcare. Within the year preceding the survey, 45 percent of adults claimed to have used telehealth on at least one occasion, while 25 percent only used it one to two times. This represents a drop from a previous survey, which showed that 39 percent of respondents used telehealth one or two times in the year prior.

The report also noted that only 26 percent of older adults accessed telehealth one or more times within the past year. But the share of young adults between 18 and 34 that used telehealth remained high, reaching 61 percent.

Further, the report showed that in-person care is popular among healthcare consumers. In total, 44 percent of survey respondents indicated that they prefer in-person visits. However, of those who are open to telehealth, patients prefer virtual visits for certain types of care, including primary care (55 percent) and mental healthcare (45 percent). On the other hand, patients do not prefer virtual visits for specialties such as dermatology, pediatrics, ENT, cardiology, urology, gynecology, orthopedics, and pulmonology.

Patient satisfaction with telehealth is high. Among survey respondents, 90 percent indicated that their telehealth experience was either good or excellent. The top reasons for a patient choosing telehealth were convenience (58 percent) or safety (43 percent). Also, 24 percent said that telehealth helped them access a better provider.

The report concluded that more evaluation is necessary to continue to optimize telehealth. For instance, since some patients requested in-person care for certain conditions, providers must consider the types of appointments that may be preferred via telehealth and invest accordingly, the report states.

Several reports have provided further insight into patient satisfaction with telehealth.

A study from the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in October found that although patients over 65 preferred in-person care, they were also highly satisfied with telehealth. Using a seven-point scale, researchers evaluated the extent to which patients of this age felt satisfied with virtual care. They found that the median patient satisfaction score was six.

More research from September found that telehealth continues to play a significant role in healthcare due to the satisfaction it provides patients.

Following a survey, researchers found that 67 percent of patients claimed to have used telehealth within the preceding year. Of this population, 94 percent stated their intention to use telehealth again.

See original article: https://mhealthintelligence.com/news/patients-prefer-telehealth-for-primary-care-mental-health-needs