Telemedicine: survey highlights pros and cons
The telehealth market is expected to grow at a rate of 40% reaching $194.05 billion globally in 2023. Despite this rapid growth, until now there has been little research on patient and healthcare provider (HCP) perspectives concerning its adoption.
With this in mind, a survey of 1500+ people in the UK and US (conducted by buzzback) sought to understand attitudes towards telemedicine. Among the key findings included:
- The frequent or exclusive use of telemedicine by GPs has risen from 20-30% pre-COVID to almost 80% in the UK at the beginning of 2021.
- Telemedicine is being used for all kinds of appointments, both for ongoing issues and for new symptoms and initial visits.
- Although healthcare practitioners are mostly using mainstream platforms – such as Zoom or Teams – some specialised channels are emerging. In the UK AccuRx in particular has seen rapid growth since the start of the pandemic.
In the UK especially, the use of telemedicine is twice as strong compared to pre-pandemic usage. The level of satisfaction with telemedicine is high both for GPs and for patients. Over 70% of practitioners and patients are satisfied with these types of appointments. They’re perceived to be especially helpful for answering patients’ questions and offering them greater time efficiency.
However, on the negative side, the inability to monitor vital signs and frustrations with technology create the most disappointment. The lack of human connection is also a downside. One respondent said: “Sometimes talking to a professional on the phone could be frustrating as they don’t understand the whole picture – or could not visualise the physical symptoms accurately. I felt less connected to the GP.”
The findings also show that a third or more of UK GPs and patients say the quality of telemedicine appointments has worsened during the pandemic. They highlighted some key disadvantages, such as frustrations with the technology itself, the limitations of no physical contact (meaning a longer process and lower confidence levels in diagnosis), and a less personal experience.
Overall telemedicine should complement in-person appointments, with blended offering to maximise the advantages of both approaches. One of the HCP respondents said: “I do not want a career on the telephone”, however both practitioners and patients do see the value of telehealth in certain instances.