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Study Provides Insights on Telemedicine’s Generation Gap

Every year since 2008, the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions (DCHS) has surveyed a nationally representative sample of adults in the United States about their attitudes and experiences related to their health, health insurance, and health care. The most recent study, conducted in 2016, focused on current use of technology for monitoring health and fitness, how much interest consumers have in using technology for health care services, which features consumers would like to see these technologies include, and any specific concern they may have about the use of technologies for healthcare.

The results are enlightening and yield some great advice for healthcare providers considering technology solutions. Here’s a recap of some of the more notable details.

Millennials Demand and are Willing to Pay for Convenience

It probably isn’t surprising to hear that members of the millennial generation are the most interested in telemedicine. They are in fact 20% more willing to adopt the technology than seniors. They particularly like the idea of using remote visits for post-surgical follow-up care and chronic disease monitoring.

While 80% of respondents said that insurance should cover telemedicine, when considering paying out of pocket, Millennials were willing to pay $100 for a visit, as opposed to a $70 average across all generations. Millennials are also flexible when it comes to who is providing the care. Only a small percentage (27%) would insist on seeing a regular provider.

Seniors Prefer Consistency

Seniors are open to telehealth, and are in fact, more likely than their younger counterparts to leverage medical sensors to monitor their health. However, when it comes to telemedicine, 60% of seniors say they would only use telemedicine with their regular care provider. As the population ages and more people choose to age in place, this is important information for practices considering a telemedicine program. It may be an effective way to care for this population efficiently and in a way that is comfortable for them.

Many Concerns are Shared Across Age Groups

While more than half of respondents said that they would use telemedicine, members of each age group did express some common concerns. The top worries about telemedicine are:

  • The care could be lower-quality than if I saw a provider in person (43%)
  • My personal health information could be leaked (35%)
  • Telemedicine seems impersonal; I would prefer to have these types of visits in person (33%)
  • I would miss the social aspect of going to the doctor’s office (15%)
  • It would be difficult to learn how to use new technology (15%)
  • I have no concerns (29%)

Providers will need to focus on building trust with patients in order to overcome these concerns. Information about the appropriate, and effective uses of telemedicine, along with details about the security tools used to protect patient information are the keys to addressing these apprehensions.

A Few More Takeaways

There were several additional insights to note in the study.

  • Overall, people are ready to embrace technology-enabled healthcare. Seven out of ten respondents were likely to use at least one of the technologies mentioned.
  • Telemedicine is the most popular, with half of respondents expressing interest.
  • Caregivers are more likely to use telemedicine and remote monitoring technology than non-caregivers.
  • People who use the health care system the most, are also the most interested in leveraging technology. People in every age group with chronic conditions show the greatest interest.
  • Quality of care and protection of personal data are top of mind anxieties for many patients.

There is a substantial gap in interest in using telehealth technologies and actual use. That gap represents an opportunity for practices to increase revenue, engender patient loyalty, and serve the varied needs of the generations.