The survey commissioned by Elevance Health found that convenience and accessibility were top draws for telehealth consumers.
An overwhelming majority (94%) of adults who've used telehealth to access primary care say they're satisfied with the virtual experience, which 79% say "has allowed them to take charge of their health."
The online poll of more than 5,000 people, 32% of whom say they've accessed virtual primary care, was commissioned by Elevance Health (formerly Anthem, Inc.,) and conducted in March by The Harris Poll.
The poll also found that convenience and accessibility were top draws for telehealth among consumers.
"Consumers are using digital technologies at an accelerating pace, and consistent with this, we're seeing at Elevance Health use of telehealth that is nearly 20 times greater than pre-pandemic levels," says Rajeev Ronanki, president of digital platforms at Elevance.
"Virtual primary care gives individuals the opportunity to work with innovative services that make healthcare more convenient, accessible, and fit into their increasingly busy schedules," Ronanki says. "The study's findings reiterate the desires of consumers to use digital technology – along with using traditional in-person care options – to take control of their health."
While the popularity of telehealth has grown substantially during and after the pandemic, the poll found that only 48% of respondents said they were familiar with the technology, although 73% of respondents said that virtual primary care was appealing to them, primarily for convenience (35%), accessibility (31%), and overall ease of use (30%).
For those who haven't used virtual primary care, 31% say that physicians need to see them in person to diagnose ailments, while 21% say they're not sure if telehealth is covered by their insurance and that it may cost more.
Telehealth advocates point to studies that have shown that virtual care is effective to help manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and asthma, and for urgent minor health issues such as allergies, cold, and skin rashes.
"As we develop the future of consumer-centered healthcare, it is important that we create a digital care network that gives individuals access to a spectrum of connected services, which includes virtual primary care as well as in-office, in-home, and digital services," Ronanki says.
While 82% of Americans feel their health is excellent or good, in reality 63% are living with or managing chronic health conditions. Two-thirds (62%) of poll respondents managing chronic conditions say virtual primary care could help them take charge of their health.
The poll also found that:
- People with a chronic health condition are more likely to be familiar with virtual primary care (52% vs. 42%).
- 41% of people with a primary healthcare doctor want to see more use of digital communication, such as text messages or emails.
- 52% with a primary care physician say they would use virtual primary care in addition to the care they receive from their current primary healthcare provider within the next year, while 59% are likely to do so within the next two to five years, and 62% beyond the next five years.
- 84% of people who have accessed virtual primary care say it has been very useful during the pandemic and that they plan to continue using it as pandemic conditions improve.
- Large majorities of respondents say they want to use virtual primary care for prescription refills (76%), referrals to specialists (72%), non-urgent (67%) and/or urgent issues (58%).
- 71% say that the nation's care delivery system is improving with the use of telehealth.
- 83% say it's a great way to increase access to healthcare for people who may otherwise be unable to visit a provider in person.
“Virtual primary care gives individuals the opportunity to work with innovative services that make healthcare more convenient, accessible, and fit into their increasingly busy schedules.”
Rajeev Ronanki, Elevance Health
John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.
While 82% of Americans feel their health is excellent or good, in reality 63% are living with or managing chronic health conditions.
62% of poll respondents managing chronic conditions say virtual primary care could help them take charge of their health.
For those who haven't used telehealth, 31% say they prefer in-person visits, while 21% say they’re not sure if it's covered by their insurance.