Do Patients Actually Want Virtual Appointments?
Virtual medicine, telemedicine, telehealth, whatever you call it, usage is through the roof because of COVID-19.
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.
Given a choice, would 10,000 patients want to move to a virtual appointment?
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.