New Amwell Research Finds Telehealth Use Will Accelerate Post-Pandemic
Amwell, October 06, 2020
Virtual specialty and scheduled visits outrun virtual urgent care, indicating rapid shift towards a hybrid virtual care model

BOSTON, Oct. 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Amwell® (NYSE: AMWL), a national telehealth leader, today released the results of its annual Physician and Consumer Survey. The results show physicians and consumers expect to use telehealth more often following COVID-19 than they did before the pandemic. Telehealth usage is up considerably in 2020, with 22% of consumers and 80% of physicians having a virtual visit this year, up from 8% and 22%, respectively, in 2019. This adoption is largely driven by a shift to scheduled visits across all specialties, whereas prior to COVID-19 the majority of visits were for on-demand urgent care.

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"We've long believed that patients want to see, and gain the most value from seeing, their own doctors versus any doctor when it comes to telehealth. The trends underscored by this survey indicate that indeed providers and consumers alike want to use telehealth for primary care, chronic care management, and specialty care of all kinds. This shift suggests the beginning of a rapid transition to a hybrid care model that combines both virtual and physical care settings. This is a welcome sea change that will enhance the overall care experience," said Ido Schoenberg, Chairman and Co-CEO, Amwell. "Furthermore, this survey reinforces the staying power of telehealth post-pandemic and calls upon the broader healthcare ecosystem to cement and sustain the hybrid healthcare model."

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Shift Toward Scheduled Visits: The shift toward scheduled visits and specialty care is one of the most pronounced trends in telehealth usage during COVID-19. During the pandemic, patients were far more likely to use telehealth for scheduled visits, especially with providers they already knew. Just 21% of consumers who reported having a virtual visit had an on-demand urgent care visit in 2020. By contrast, 54% had a scheduled visit with their primary care physician.

  • Rapid Expansion of Virtual Specialty Care: In 2020, 42% of consumers who reported having a virtual visit had a scheduled visit with a specialist they already knew, and another 13% had a virtual visit with a new specialist. Pulmonologists, cardiologists, surgeons, and many other specialists reported a sharp increase in telehealth adoption compared to 2019. The willingness of specialists to use telehealth also increased across the board in 2020, doubling for several high-volume specialties including radiology, cardiology, and surgery.

  • Expanded Willingness to Use Telehealth: The number of consumers who've had a virtual visit has nearly tripled since last year. What's more, 59% of consumers who've had a video visit had their first one during the pandemic, and 91% of patients reported being "very" or "somewhat" satisfied with the visit. Among providers, the percentage of those who have used telehealth nearly quadrupled since last year, and 84% said they were "very" or "somewhat" satisfied with one or more telehealth platforms. 96% of physicians said they were willing to use telehealth, with a sizable majority saying they'd be willing to use it for prescription renewals (94%), regular chronic care management check-ins (93%), and follow-up visits after surgery or hospital stays (71%).

  • Barriers to Adoption Still Remain: While many of the barriers to telehealth adoption have attenuated due to the pandemic, others have emerged and proven more persistent. During COVID-19, physicians most frequently cited technology challenges as a barrier to telehealth adoption at their organization (72%), followed by uncertainty around reimbursement (64%) and questions about clinical appropriateness (58%).

"As the data clearly shows, telehealth is going to play a larger role in patient and physician healthcare experiences going forward, blending both physical and digital models to ensure the best care," said Joe Miles, Managing Director, Healthcare & Life Sciences, Google Cloud. "With the Amwell and Google Cloud partnership, we are redefining the patient visit from an experience and effectiveness perspective by expanding access to virtual care while improving patient and clinician experiences with new, differentiated healthcare solutions across the continuum of care."

- Originally published at  October 6, 2020.