Survey also reveals the importance of health systems aligning with virtual care partners to increase access for traveling patients, while decreasing the risk of their own physicians violating state telehealth licensing regulations.
Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) of consumers who needed minor but urgent medical services while traveling in the prior year received care via telehealth visits with their regular physicians or affiliated members of their physicians’ care teams, outpacing all other care-delivery options. These findings come from a new survey sponsored by KeyCare, the nation’s first and only Epic-based virtual care company.
For consumers who received telehealth care while traveling, speed and convenience (52%) were the top factors influencing their decisions, followed by the ability to receive care from their regular care team (27%), and cost (19%).
Respondents reported receiving services from one or more care delivery options. Sixty-eight percent received care via telehealth from their regular physicians or affiliated care team members; 33% from a locally based urgent care clinic; 30% via telehealth from a provider not affiliated with their regular doctors; and 18% from an emergency room. Because providers must be licensed in the state where a patient is located, the results raise questions about whether some doctors might have been in violation – potentially unknowingly – of telehealth regulations when treating patients who traveled out of state.
“The results of this survey confirm that there is substantial consumer demand for telehealth services while traveling, but just as importantly, reveal a strong patient preference for virtual visits with telehealth providers who are closely connected to their main health system,” said Lyle Berkowitz, MD, CEO of KeyCare. “With KeyCare, health systems have access to a virtual care workforce that uses Epic’s EHR platform, allowing us to more directly integrate with the majority of health systems in the United States. We thus help health systems remain in compliance with state licensing laws, while also giving patients the opportunity to receive care from affiliated virtual care teams that have access to their primary medical records.”
Overall, 59.5% of consumer respondents said that in the last year, they or a close family member had needed medical care for a minor but urgent issue such as strep throat or a skin rash while traveling out-of-state. When asked how they would seek needed minor but urgent care while traveling in the future, 50% of consumers said their top preference was via telehealth visits with their regular physicians or affiliated members of their physicians’ care teams, followed by emergency rooms (20%), urgent care clinics (15%), and telehealth from a provider not affiliated with their regular doctors (15%).
Results are based on a survey of 400 consumers who have previously scheduled and completed telehealth visits and have a commercial health insurance plan.
Connect with KeyCare at the ATA 2023 Annual Conference and Expo, booth 1404, March 4-6, 2023; Dr. Berkowitz is also participating in a panel discussion at 3:00PM March 6 entitled, “A Better Path Forward: Empowering Primary and Specialty Care.”