Consumers and physicians support virtual care, but lingering physician concerns hamper adoption, survey finds

July 19, 2018

Consumers and physicians typically agree that virtual healthcare holds great promise for transforming care delivery. Yet many physicians remain reluctant to embrace the technologies, worried about reimbursement, privacy and other issues.

Results from Deloitte Center for Health Solutions surveys of both U.S. healthcare consumers and physicians show how health systems can encourage physicians to overcome resistance and close the gap on virtual care, among other findings.

Virtual care uses telemedicine and other communication technologies to complement and even substitute traditional care delivery. The Deloitte 2018 Surveys of U.S. Health Care Consumers and Physicians set out to understand each group’s perspectives and experiences with current and future uses for virtual care technologies, as well as the benefits and challenges.

The surveys found that a majority of consumers (64%) and physicians (66%) cite improved patient access as the top benefit of virtual care. About half of physicians surveyed agree that virtual care supports the goals of patient-centricity, including improved patient satisfaction (52% agree) and staying connected with patients and their caregivers (45% agree).

However, physicians’ enthusiasm wanes when it comes to using virtual care in their practices today. While 57% of consumers favor video-based visits, only 14% of physicians surveyed have the capability today, and just 18% of the remainder plan to add this capability.

Lack of reimbursement, along with complex licensing requirements and high cost technologies are among the key causes of physician reluctance, the research found. Yet changing reimbursement models may be a catalyst for virtual care adoption.

The U.S. Physician Survey also found that clinicians worry about medical errors (36%) and data security and privacy (33%) associated with virtual care.

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