Most Americans are open to using telemedicine for their primary care needs, according to a new survey conducted by Americans for a Modern Economy.
The AME survey, conducted May 5-6, found nearly one in three respondents had used telemedicine since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
More encouraging for telemedicine backers: Three-quarters say they’re open to using telemedicine; 59% say they’d use it for primary care; and 70% support policy changes that would expand access to remote care.
“For many years, the healthcare system has lagged advancements seen in other sectors from efficiency and productivity viewpoints”, said Dr. S. Scott Davis, co-medical director of perioperative services at Emory University Hospital.
“There are several instances where groundwork for an efficient doctor visit, particularly for providers who provide specialized care which may not be local to the patient, would save redundant effort and unnecessary travel.”
AME, which supports policies that reflect technological advances, attributes the surge in telemedicine support to the crisis. The pandemic, at least at first, made scheduling in-person doctor visits more difficult.
Respondents didn’t list the pandemic as a motivation to seek telehealth, instead saying the driving force was convenience (31%), ability to see their doctor (24%), cost and reimbursement (24%) or quality of care (21%).
Additionally, 44% of respondents said they would be willing to use telemedicine even if the service wasn’t available through their primary care doctor.
The results are particularly relevant in Florida due to the more permissive policies put in place as a direct result of the pandemic.
Remote care wasn’t seen as viable until the Legislature defined it in 2019, and even then physicians were limited in the services they could offer.
As the popularity of telemedicine surges, telemedicine supporters see a window to make some of those changes permanent. The Florida Medical Association, for instance, has been pushing for pay parity in telemedicine, which could make it a more attractive venture for physicians who currently operate in-person only.
The AME fielded poll was conducted online via SurveyMonkey and received responses from 1,048 adults and was then balanced against U.S. Census data. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.