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patients and telemedicine

Do Patients Actually Want Virtual Appointments?

Do Patients Actually Want Virtual Appointments?

Do patients want virtual appointments and telemedicine

Virtual medicine, telemedicine, telehealth, whatever you call it, usage is through the roof because of COVID-19.

Blue Cross Blue Shield telemedicine visits
(PRNewsfoto/Blue Cross Blue Shield…)

Talking to patients and health systems across the country, we’ve seen some trends in how this has been received by providers and patients. There are many surveys asking patients if they would be interested in telemedicine, but there is not any quantitative analysis of the actual question: given the option of a virtual appointment vs. an in-person, how many patients prefer virtual? We dug into our data to find the answer. The result is a case study on how AI and automation can augment healthcare operations during and after a crisis.

The Question

Given a choice, would 10,000 patients want to move to a virtual appointment?

The Product

QueueDr developed a free product, Switch, for select practice management systems and customers to help move appointments from in-person to virtual automatically. QueueDr reached out to 10,000 patients offering them the option to switch. The message did not incorporate any threat that the appointment would be cancelled or that the patient was required to switch.

QueueDr sample text message switching patients to telemedicine

The Results

QueueDr results for patients wanting telemedicine
*Data collected from March 27-May 7, 2020
*Results include U.S. regions: north, south, midwest, west are represented

34% of Patients Opted for a Virtual Visit vs. an In-Person Visit

34% of patients opted for a virtual visit vs. an in-person visit. What’s even more encouraging is how quickly patients replied. 50% of the patients who preferred a virtual visit, did so in 34 minutes or less! Finally, healthcare automation and AI use is on the rise as a way to help health systems. Switch increased operational output by the equivalent of 70 staff workdays through schedule automation. In short, QueueDr completed work in one day that would have taken 70 people to do.

QueueDr results for how quickly patients accept telemedicine appointments
How fast patients replied to claim virtual appointments

Breaking Down the Telemedicine Results

Patient Appetite by Group Size

Does practice size impact the patient’s appetite for telemedicine? Would patients of larger practices be more willing to switch to virtual because they are used to new technology? Or would that be the causal factor for smaller practices than can be more nimble?

QueueDr data on healthcare practice size results for telemedicine

Patients of smaller practices were 31% more willing to switch to virtual visits than patients of larger groups.

Higher Adoption of Telemedicine = Higher Patient Acceptance

If a medical practice or health system had quickly embraced telemedicine prior to and at the start of COVID-19, would patients be more likely to switch to virtual?

We found an adjusted R Square of .71 which means a high correlation between the volume of virtual appointments prior to Switch and the virtual appointment acceptance rate.

Overall Growth in Patient Telemedicine Volume through Automation

QueueDr saves staff time in schedule management during coronavirus

Prior to incorporating Switch, these medical organizations had approximately 6,000 telemedicine appointments. After Switch, health systems and medical practices had over 9,000 telemedicine appointments. This is a prime use case on how AI and automation can augment staff efforts in healthcare operations during and after a crisis.

Conclusion

COVID-19 escalated the use of telemedicine.  QueueDr found patients were willing to switch with a quick response rate. This consumer demand was met seamlessly with AI scheduling where no medical staff had to lift a finger to make the transition.  Being at the forefront of telemedicine and automation created a better patient experience and allowed medical organizations to adapt to the challenges the pandemic brought faster than those not using automation. This trend will be important in rebuilding and meeting patient demand after COVID-19.