While half of patients have experienced a telehealth visit in the last year, the bulk say they want to get back to normal in-person visits, according to new research conducted by HIMSS. In fact, HIMSS’ State of Healthcare report found that 60% of patients want to return to their pre-pandemic experiences.
“The desire to go back to normal is an overarching sentiment. There is a pandemic fatigue and they want to go back to normal in many facets of their life,” Lauren Goodman, director of market intelligence at HIMSS, said during the State of Health event this afternoon. “This data is a snapshot in our current state and it could shift. These metrics will be interesting to watch overtime.”
The new research included 2,062 participants and was conducted between March 2021 and April 2021. In order to be included participants had to have at least one medical visit within the last 12 months.
The research found that Gen Z and Millennials were the most likely to be open to telehealth, with 47% of millennials saying they would prefer telehealth over in-person visits once the pandemic has ended. Nearly three-quarters of younger generations reported that one reason they prefer telehealth is convenience.
The silent generation and the Baby Boomers were the least likely to favor in-person visits over telehealth.
Another hot topic coming up in patient circles at the moment is the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning for care.
“When we asked about healthcare organizations having access to their personal health information, 50% stated that it felt like big brother and they were being monitored too closely,” Goodman said. “But when we explored different aspects of the benefits of AI/ML in healthcare we did consistently see that patients were willing to share their personal data at a high tendency.”
The survey found that participants were more interested in the technology when given specific use cases. Goodman said that the top reasons patients were interested in AI/ML were for monitoring a condition and coming up with a more accurate diagnosis.
“When we drill down to specific healthcare benefits of AI/ML patients are very positive. There is definitely a what’s in it for us aspect to this technology,” Goodman said.
It’s no secret that the pandemic has propelled the healthcare world into a more digital environment. For some patients this was a major breakthrough in their care.
“I have my son who can’t walk, can’t talk, can’t do anything for himself,” Stacy Hurt, a patient advocate, said during a panel discussion at HIMSS State of Healthcare event. “When he was diagnosed in 2006 we saw 60 different specialists. Six-zero. It was the same template. See him, order a test, get the test done and then follow up. Multiply that template times 60 and I was asking them can’t we do any of this via computer. Do I have to keep bringing him in?”
Hurt said that telemedicine made things much easier for families like hers.
“As a caregiver, that really helped lighten my burden of all the different specialists he follows with,” Hurt said.
However, Hurt said that the pandemic and virtual care has not worked for all.
“As an advocate, I think about all of my fellow cancer survivors unable to receive treatment, unable to get the surgeries they were scheduled for, life-saving surgeries. We saw at one point in the pandemic that screenings were down 80%. We are going to see the ripple effect for that for years to come,” Hurt said.
All told, the last year has been a mixed bag for patients, according to Hurt.
“There were definitely innovations and breakthroughs and silver linings at the acceleration of things like virtual care and remote patient monitoring, shifting care into the patients’ hands and empowering patients to take charge of their own health. But it really revealed the gaps for some of my patients struggling with chronic illness.”