Recent research by Avizia, a telehealth provider, indicates that although providers are largely excited about the new technology, 82 percent of consumers are either unsure of, or have never heard of, telehealth services.

The findings in the company’s white paper “2017 Closing the Telehealth Gap” swim against the recent wave of legislative acceptance, federal initiatives, and the birth of local services.

Providers and Telehealth

Providers increasingly see telehealth as a better way to expand access to healthcare. Forty percent of providers seeing telehealth as a solution in 2016 became 70 percent in 2017. Providers increasingly see it as a tool to reduce costs, with 16 percent changing their mind compared to last year. Providers’ motivations for improving outcomes and to meet consumer demand tumbled compared to 2016.

Providers’ enthusiasm reflects the lowering of barriers, such as ease and adequacy of reimbursement and program costs. Half worried about cost last year, but in 2017 angst dropped 10 percent. Providers also report that educated patients react more positively than in previous years. the

Patients Lack Understanding, Trust

Adoption of telehealth has been slower for patients than their providers, with 82 percent not using the service. They worry about insurance coverage and how comfortable they’d feel during a visit.

Patients in the study are reticent to endorse telehealth for three reasons: they haven’t heard of it, prefer face-to-face visits, and haven’t had an opportunity to use it. Seven percent of patients surveyed said they don’t use the service because of its cost, and 5 percent are concerned about security and hacking.

Patients who do use telehealth site a number of reasons to use it:

  • 59 percent like its convenience
  • 55 percent like the faster service
  • 43 percent appreciate the cost savings through avoiding travel
  • 25 percent feel it gives them better access to specialists
  • 16 percent believe it’s a more comfortable experience
  • 16 percent enjoy a longer conversations with the provider

Several healthcare companies and the federal government are expanding their provision of telehealth, while commercial and federal payers appreciate the cost-saving benefits. Communicating the benefits to the remaining providers and patients adopted it seems to be the toughest part.