Capterra has revealed the results of a study that more than 1,000 respondents, over half of them had used telemedicine, and most (92%) admitted they first used it after COVID-19 hit. Almost 4 out of 5 Aussies said they would use it again, with 15% actually saying they would now only use telemedicine regardless of the pandemic.
Respondents benefitted in saving time waiting for appointments (27%), lowering contagion risks (25%), and being able to access diagnosis and prescriptions from anywhere (15%). Others reported positively on saving time on distance and travel and being able to consult with a doctor from another state. While COVID-19 plays an important role in boosting the use of telehealth, saving time are arguments to suggest that virtual doctor’s appointments are here to stay.
Survey participants used teleconsulting for a range of medical appointment types, but the most common was to consult with their GP (43%). The large majority (72%) reported their medical problem was solved via teleconsultation. Only 12% needed an in-person appointment for a physical examination. During the start of the pandemic, a shift of in-person to virtual consultations helped relieve pressure on the Australian healthcare system.
While the majority stated they would continue using telehealth (79%), a considerable number of respondents did not want to continue using it (21%). The respondents cited they feel that face-to-face appointments were more comfortable (47%), or they require a physical examination (41%).
Some respondents faced technical problems on either their side or the doctor’s due to the device or a poor internet connection (16%). Additional challenges mentioned include data security concerns (8%), a lack of privacy in shared households (7%), and the health professional not being prepared for remote consultations (7%).
Most Aussies (79%) spoke to their doctor via phone call, whereas only 13% reported using a medical video conference app. Capterra suggests that video conferencing apps could help doctors walk their patients through self-examination and further improve patients’ telehealth experience.
Laura Burgess, Capterra Australia content analyst, notes: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, the use of telemedicine has increased in Australia. Telemedicine can have many advantages for patients who do not want to go into the hospital or practice. In fact, telemedicine has been around for a while, but the lockdown and social distancing rules made it the preferred solution for many patients during this time. 79% of respondents state they would continue using it after COVID-19.”
However, Burgess points out there are still a number of people who are not willing to use it.
“The fact is that almost 1 in 5 respondents in Australia who had already used telemedicine before would not want to use it after the pandemic, the main reason cited as not being able to receive a physical examination,” Burgess says.
She concludes: “Whilst mobile and phone consultations are the most popular forms of communication, looking at incorporating more tools to help patients (like video services for doctors to talk patients through self-examination) could help establish telemedicine as an equally effective way to diagnose and treat patients.”