December 17, 2021

Despite telemedicine gains, many consumers prefer in-person visits

Although the pandemic has driven higher telemedicine usage, and a flood of investment in new virtual health startups, consumers seem to be largely set in their ways when it comes to seeking in-person care. When out-of-pocket costs are equal, a slight majority of consumers prefer to see a provider in person for nonemergency visits, according to a recent RAND survey. As shown in the graphic below, only a quarter of consumers would opt for virtual visits, if that were a cheaper option. On the other hand, nearly two thirds of consumers who indicated they’d prefer a video visit said they’d switch to in-person if it was cheaper, suggesting thatconsumers who favor virtual care are more price sensitiveThese findings will vary depending on what kind of care a patient is seeking. According to a recent Rock Health reportconsumers prefer virtual care for low-acuity needs, like colds or prescription refills. Surprisingly, although virtual care for behavioral health has skyrocketed during the pandemic, three-quarters of those surveyed said they’d prefer to access mental healthcare in person. But with the widespread lack of access to mental health professionals, virtual behavioral health solutions clearly fill a critical gap. Connecting virtual care with necessary next steps (diagnostics, follow-up visits, and the like) will be a future competitive differentiator. As the virtual care market continues to evolve, healthcare providers should look to create an integrated care experience that combines both virtual and in-person care offerings, creating omnichannel, personalized care solutions that match consumers to the right care setting to address their specific needs.

virtual health preferences