B2B software comparison website Capterra has published the results of a study with over 1,000 Australians, detailing their perspectives and considerations about telehealth.

Data was collected in April 2021 from Australians aged 18 and over, who had visited the doctor at least once a year, and had had a healthcare appointment within the last 12 months.

The findings predominantly indicate that the use of telemedicine is likely to extend beyond the pandemic, with reduced waiting times and general efficacy of end-to-end processes cited as contributing factors.

FINDINGS

According to Capterra’s survey findings, 92% of telemedicine users in Australia had experienced telemedicine for the first time during the pandemic. While the surge in usage of telemedicine may be owed to COVID-19 restrictions, 84% of first-time users stated that they used telemedicine for consultation unrelated to symptoms of the virus itself.

Would respondents use telemedicine again?

Of total respondents, 79% said that they would use telemedicine again. The most prevalent reason cited for the consensus was that telemedicine could allow for reduced waiting time, making up 50% of the results.

25% of respondents expressed their appreciation for a reduced risk of catching contagions, and 15% cited a key driver for them to want to use telemedicine again as having access to diagnosis and prescriptions from anywhere.

Does telemedicine really meet the needs of consumers?

72% of respondents shared that telemedicine was able to solve their problems. On the contrary, 11% said they needed a repeat appointment for their problem to be solved, and 12% said they had needed an in-person appointment for their medical problem.

How are consumers engaging with telemedicine currently?

Results found that 79% of consumers are dialling in via phone call, while less than 20% used a medical video conference app or an app that was provided by their doctor or insurance provider.

Concurrently, findings also pointed to mobile devices being the most used device (81%) for telemedicine. Computers were the least used device, and only 5% of respondents used one for their sessions.

What pain points do consumers have with telemedicine?

Capterra’s findings indicate that 21% of consumers who had previously used telemedicine would not continue to do so after the pandemic. 47% of respondents indicated that they would still feel more comfortable in-person, and 41% said they would require a physical examination.

Despite results indicating that a majority of respondents would use telemedicine again, only 8% of total respondents felt that telemedicine had given them a better interaction with their doctor.

While telemedicine has indicatively helped ease the strain of waiting time, 36% of respondents still cited not being able to receive a physical examination as one of the main problems of telehealth.

16% of respondents shared the experience of having poor virtual consultation sessions, owing to technical glitches due to a poor internet connection, or device incompatibility.

THE LARGER TREND

Telehealth software continues to grant rural areas and large global populations access to medical services. The US Bureau of Health Workforce Health Resources and Services Administration found that 62.93% of primary care health professional shortage areas were located in rural areas.

Australia’s universal health insurance scheme Medicare shared data that Australia has seen 10 million telehealth services be delivered across the COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, over 3.2 million Australians in regional, rural, and remote Australia have received medical attention with telemedicine.

ON THE RECORD

While the aforementioned survey results indicate that medical treatment via telemedicine may not match up to the comfort of physical treatment, telemedicine software is progressively offering more features to improve the end-to-end experience.

"Since the beginning of the pandemic, the use of telemedicine has dramatically increased in Australia. Telemedicine can have many advantages for patients who don’t want to go into the hospital or practice," said Laura Burgess, content analyst at Capterra Australia.

"However, there are still a number of people who are not willing to use it," she added.

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