Among infectious diseases, telehealth specialties appear to be fast-paced, Amwell research says

• Doctors and consumers assume that after COVID-19 they will use virtual care more often than before. This is the result of a new survey by telemedicine provider Amwell, which points to the long-term potential of the virtual care model in healthcare.

• Prior to the pandemic, most virtual visits were for urgent care on demand. This year, the volume of virtual and scheduled specialist visits has overtaken emergency care, suggesting that telemedicine is normalizing in more areas and use cases. Only about 21% of consumers received a virtual tour for urgent on-demand service visits this year. In comparison, 54% had a scheduled visit to their family doctor.

• Telemedicine adoption skyrocketed in 2020 and 22% of consumers and 80% of doctors who responded to Amwell’s survey received a telemedicine visit this year. This corresponds to an increase of 8% and 22% in 2019.

Telemedicine adoption accelerated in the early months of the pandemic as cautious patients turned to digital channels for necessary medical treatment. However, the use of intensive care began in June as the state began to close its doors and many patients returned to face-to-face care.

It is not yet clear to what extent the use of telemedicine will change without a pandemic. Most experts believe that the use of virtual remedies is likely to continue to decline slightly, as is the case with COVID-19, but it has already normalized in the healthcare sector and will persist at much higher levels. McKinsey’s consultants estimate that $ 250 billion of all health care spending could be digitized.

Amwell hired online research firm Dynata to survey more than 2,000 adults and consulting firm M3 Global Consulting to survey 600 doctors in June to measure patient and doctor use and satisfaction with telemedicine in the hospital.

That year, 42% of consumers who had a virtual tour had an appointment with a specialist they knew, while 13% had a telemedicine visit with a new specialist, Amwell found. And specialists were more willing to use telemedicine in 2020, with offerings doubling for a handful of high-volume areas such as radiology, cardiology, and surgery.

According to the survey, around 59% of consumers who took a video tour had their first video tour during the pandemic. That number has increased in the elderly, with 86% of consumers 65 and over having their first experience of telemedicine during COVID-19.

Almost all of them, 96% of doctors, said they were ready to use telemedicine, and the majority said they would use it for prescription refills (94%), regular check-ups to treating chronic conditions (93%), and follow-up appointments. after surgery or hospitalization (71%).

A quarter of GP clients who do not provide telemedicine would be willing to switch to a doctor doing Amwell.

Despite growing acceptance, there are still obstacles to the use of telemedicine. Almost three-quarters of physicians report that technological challenges are an obstacle to the delivery of virtual care in their organization, followed by uncertainties about reimbursement (64%) and concerns about the quality of virtual care (58%).

Boston-based Amwell is among a growing number of vendors looking to take advantage of the favorable winds of COVID-19 for virtual assistance, resulting in a number of critical transactions, IPOs, large investments, and other businesses. Funding for digital health, including telemedicine in the third quarter, could top $ 8 billion and is expected to break the records seen in the second quarter. For his part, Amwell went public in August with a $ 100 million investment from Google.