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Survey: Physicians Keen on Video Visits with Patients

June 23, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Most providers are willing to conduct video visits with their patients, according to new research from Boston-based telehealth company American Well.

The survey, done in collaboration with QuantiaMD, a Waltham, Mass.-based social network for physicians, found that 57 percent of physicians are willing to conduct video visits with their patients.  Just 12 percent of physicians were unwilling to see a patient over video, while 31 percent remained uncertain. Work-life balance was the most popular reason physicians cited for seeing patients over video, followed by increased earning opportunity, and improved patient outcomes. The survey included responses from more than 2,000 primary care doctors.

Overwhelmingly, 69 percent of physicians cited video as superior to phone or email communication for making accurate diagnoses for new patient consults. Physicians panned email and text messages for clinical assessment, with just 5 percent choosing email as best for diagnosis and only 1 percent saying text is best. “There’s a sea change going on within the physician community,” Roy Schoenberg, M.D., CEO of American Well, said in a statement. “Doctors see value in virtual visits for their patients and also in managing their own work-life balance. We’ve seen weekly physician inquiries about practicing online triple in less than six months.”

The survey also found that physicians see many clinical applications for video visits beyond urgent care. Among physicians willing to see patients via video, 86 percent believe video visits are appropriate for medication management and prescription renewals; 80 percent saw video visits as appropriate for chronic condition management; and 70 percent gave the thumbs up for behavioral health.

What’s more, the study found evidence that health systems may be able to increase referral revenue by adding peer telehealth consults to their specialty care programs. When asked, 60 percent of all primary care physicians surveyed said that if a nearby hospital offered them a chance to consult with specialists via video, it would increase their likelihood of referring patients to that hospital. Physicians also revealed their priorities for peer clinical consults. Dermatology, psychiatry, infectious disease, pain management, and neurology were the top specialty consults desired by primary care doctors, the survey revealed.

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