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Survey: 57% of docs are open to patient consults via telehealth

Doctors are getting hip to telehealth.

Well, at least that’s what a recent survey by American Well, the big telehealth vendor, found by gauging doctors’ willingness to use video to see patients.

The nationwide survey of 2,016 primary care physicians conducted with QuantiaMD, a social media network for doctors, found that 57% of practitioners are willing to conduct video visits with patients.

Some 12% were unwilling to do so, and 31% remained uncertain, according to the poll.

Respondents cited work-life balance, increased earning potential and improved medical results as reasons to use video to meet  with patients.

The “Telehealth Index: 2015 Physician Survey,” the full version of which is available here, found that 69% of physicians saw video as better than phone or email  for making accurate diagnoses on first consults.

“There’s a sea change going on within the physician community,” said Roy Schoenberg, MD, CEO of American Well, in a release. “Doctors see value in for their patients and also in managing their own work-life balance. We’ve seen weekly physician inquiries about practicing online triple in less than six months.”

According to the survey, doctors saw a lot of uses for video in addition to urgent care. Among docs willing to see patients over video link, 86% said they think video visits are appropriate for medication management and prescription renewals, 80% said video is appropriate for managing chronic conditions, and 70% said video was fine for behavioral health issues.

And lest traditional bricks and mortar-based docs see telemedicine as a threat to their livelihoods (as many apparently still do), the survey results suggested that healthcare systems may be able to boost referral revenue by adding peer telehealth consults to programs.

Asked about the issue on the survey, 60% of the respondents said if a nearby hospital gave them a chance to consult with specialists over video, it would increase their willingness to refer patients to that hospital.

Physicians’ preferences for such peer video consults were for these specialties: dermatology, psychiatry, pain management, and neurology.