The Growth Channel

From interested to engaged: Driving patient utilization of virtual visits

by Emily Zuehlke and Mouli Chakravarty

While the benefits of telehealth are plentiful for patients—they offer a convenient care alternative, reduce wait times to appointments, and improve access to physicians in rural areas, to name a few—members frequently ask how to grow volumes for their telehealth programs.

Convincing patients to like virtual visits isn't the problem; in fact, 92% of one virtual visit provider's patients said they would use the service again. The challenge is convincing patients to try virtual visits in the first place. In our newest consumer survey, the majority of respondents told us they would consider using a virtual visit for primary and select specialty care use cases, which means that the task ahead for providers is moving patients from "considering" to "consuming."

To do that, providers need to address top patient concerns about virtual visits. Here's how:

#1 Concern: The quality of the care I will receive
A concern for 20.9% of respondents

When it comes to virtual appointments, respondents are most worried about care quality. And they're not using provider qualifications as an indicator of quality—only 3.7% of respondents were concerned about being treated by an advanced practitioner (AP) instead of a doctor during their virtual visit.

To overcome these clinical concerns, emphasize that your clinicians follow the same evidence-based best practices whether they're seeing patients virtually or in-person. It also helps to have your providers broach the topic of virtual visits when patients are in their offices: 66.5% of our survey respondents said this could convince them to try a virtual visit.

#2 Concern: I might have to go to a physical clinic anyway if I can't be treated virtually
A concern for 19.2% of respondents

Help consumers understand what conditions you can treat virtually, and hardwire scheduling an appointment with a PCP or AP at a nearby retail clinic, urgent care clinic, or physician's office for situations in which an in-person visit is required. Providers can also help alleviate this concern by offering a satisfaction guarantee, as 65.9% of respondents said that could convince them to use a virtual visit.

Consumers are ready for specialty virtual visits—are you?

There are dozens of telehealth technologies to choose from. But planners who ask, "What technology should I invest in?" are focusing on the wrong question. Download our infographic to learn what three questions you should ask to ensure you build a successful strategy that effectively leverages telehealth technology.