By Russ Mulert, Innovation Office, Xerox Healthcare Business Group

Believe it or not, the American Telemedicine Association has hosted an annual conference for 21 years. So we’ve been talking about telemedicine for over two decades – but what progress has been made?

We recently surveyed[1] U.S. adults and found that only 16 percent have used virtual health.  While virtual health is still not mainstream in terms of usage, the survey provided promising insight that it is gaining acceptance among consumers.  Sixty-one percent say they are willing to receive non-urgent healthcare advice, exam or counseling in a virtual setting. And 77 percent say they are excited about the possibility of receiving healthcare virtually for a non-urgent matter.

Here are the top five things people are excited about:

  • Convenience – 59 percent
  • Potential cost savings – 40 percent
  • Ability to see or communicate with a healthcare professional for minor ailments – 35 percent
  • Ability to easily receive prescription refills – 35 percent
  • Ability to see or communicate with a healthcare professional more frequently – 26 percent

This tells me that we’re on the edge of a major expansion in virtual care – when there is this much demand from consumers, the industry must pay attention.

But for healthcare providers, implementing a comprehensive telehealth strategy is easier said than done – otherwise we’d have made more progress in the last two decades. The infrastructure for actually delivering virtual care, and integrating patient and claims data from telehealth visits with mainstream clinical and financial systems, are two significant challenges. And providers also need to be aware of and address patient concerns.

The top five things people are concerned about receiving virtual healthcare for non-urgent matters include:

  • My insurance won’t cover it – 43 percent
  • My data and information won’t be secure – 37 percent
  • I won’t have the same personal relationship with my provider – 35 percent
  • Connection issues (such as internet/Wi-Fi/phone) – 34 percent
  • I won’t have access to my regular physicians – 30 percent

Healthcare providers need help balancing the demand and opportunity with the challenges and risks. We announced today a new solution, Xerox Virtual Health Solutions, which will help providers integrate a telehealth strategy with mainstream care delivery while meeting patient expectations. Once we find this balance, I expect we’ll see the number of people using telehealth increase dramatically.

[1] Survey conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Xerox in May 2016 among 2,033 U.S. adults 18+.