Over three-quarters of US specialists increased use of telemedicine during COVID-19 pandemic: GlobalData
While 24 per cent reported that they would not use it in the future, most of these indicated that they need to see their patients in person in order to carry out examinations, while several also noted that future reimbursement or payer policies could be an issue
Use of telemedicine by US physicians has increased significantly as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. In a survey conducted by data and analytics company GlobalData, 79 per cent of specialists indicated that their use of telemedicine technology had increased as a result of the pandemic, while 20 per cent indicated that their use had stayed the same. The survey was conducted between May 27 and July 2 on 70 specialists across cardiology, gastroenterology, pulmonology and respiratory fields
Kathryn Whitney, director, thematic analysis, GlobalData commented, “COVID-19 may be the tipping point for telemedicine as the full potential of the technology is increasingly realised by patients, healthcare systems and payers. As a result of the pandemic, regulations and policies governing reimbursement and use of telemedicine have changed significantly, leading to expanded access and an unprecedented demand for these services.”
GlobalData’s latest research report, ‘Use of Telemedicine During the COVID-19 Pandemic in the US’, has revealed that less than half of surveyed specialists indicated that they were using telemedicine to treat their patients prior to the pandemic, with just 30 per cent using it in 1–20 per cent of their patients. Of the 79 per cent of respondents who reported an increase in use, almost 30 per cent reported an increase of between 81–100 per cent, while 13 per cent indicated an increase of 61–80 per cent.
Whitney reasoned that telemedicine has been critical during the COVID-19 pandemic to limit the risk of person-to-person transmission of the virus and to reduce the burden on overwhelmed healthcare systems. In GlobalData’s survey, US specialists were asked whether they would use telemedicine once the pandemic had abated. Over 75 per cent indicated they would continue to use the technology, while 24 per cent reported that they would not use it in the future. Most specialists who did not foresee using the technology indicated that they need to see their patients in person in order to carry out examinations, while several also noted that future reimbursement or payer policies could be an issue.
Recent changes to reimbursement regulations in the US have rapidly expanded access to telemedicine services during the pandemic, and it appears that some of these changes may be made permanent in the future.
“Changes in regulation will be important in providing solutions to improving access to care for underserved and rural populations and providing affordable care to the uninsured,” said Whitney.