New Survey Shows Vast Differences in Patient, Provider Views of Telehealth

FJ Thomas

Sarasota, FL ( – Recent studies have suggested that telehealth frequency may be directly related to a physician’s perception of its use. While some estimates show that telehealth visits accounted for as much 69 percent of doctor’s visits during the pandemic, recent statistics have shown a decrease the last few months.

A myriad of studies and firsthand accounts have shown that telehealth services can save time and money. For instance, Kaiser Permanente has reduced ER visits by 60 percent with the use of a 24/7 video health center, saving more than 1,800 hospital admissions and 4,800 hospital bed-days.

While telehealth has proven it offers much benefit and cost savings, according to a new McKinsey & Company report, only a small percent of physicians find it more convenient. In fact, the perspectives of telehealth by patients and physicians vary drastically.

McKinsey surveyed 1,370 providers across primary-care, cardiology, and orthopedic-surgery specialties. The surveys were conducted online in 2020 from April 27 to May 5th, July 22nd to 27th, and September 22nd to 27th. The final survey was conducted from March 25th through April 5th of last year. Multiple consumer surveys were released starting in March 2020 and continued until August 23rd of last year.

Sixty percent of patients stated they chose telehealth because it was more convenient. Over half at 55 percent of patients stated they were more satisfied with telehealth care than they were in person care. Forty percent of patients stated they would continue to use telehealth after the pandemic, and 63 percent were interested in more virtual options.

By comparison, only 36 percent of physicians felt that telehealth was more convenient, and only 32 percent believed that it could improve the patient experience. Ten percent of physicians expected telehealth visits to account for 10 percent of total visits. Only 14 percent of have invested in a digital platform, and only 8 percent have invested in a text messaging platform.

While the level of severity of conditions and appropriateness of care are definitely factors in the type of visit, the report also found that the physician confidence in the effectiveness of telehealth has declined since July 2020 when confidence was at an all-time high. Confidence levels dropped by 5 percentage points for new patient visits with physical exam, 16 points for new patience with no physical exam, and 10 percentage points for follow up visits. For preoperative consults, confidence levels dropped 17 percentage points, and for post-operative follow up the confidence levels dropped 9 points.

In a previous McKinsey survey, 58 percent of physicians reported that they had lost patients to other providers or health systems since the start of the pandemic. Thirty five percent of the patients polled cited patient experience as their reason for switching providers. While providers may be slow to jump on the telehealth bandwagon, utilizing virtual options may eventually be critical to retaining their practice.