In a new paper published in JAMA Network, researchers discovered that given the choice, patients still preferred in-person medical visits over telehealth care, but would choose telehealth if the issue was a non-emergency or they were concerned over out-of-pocket costs. In a post-COVID world its likely telehealth and telemedicine will stick around but when it comes down to it, who will actually use it?

From the paper: “Most respondents were willing to use video visits as indicated on a 5-point scale: 61.4% said they were very willing or willing, whereas only 8.5% were unwilling. Of the 45.0% of respondents who had used telehealth since March 2020, only 2.3% reported that they were unwilling to use telehealth in the future.

When out-of-pocket costs were not a factor in the decision to seek care for a nonemergency health issue, 53.0% of participants preferred an in-person visit, 20.9% preferred a video visit, and 26.2% did not have a preference or did not know. Univariate analyses of preferences are shown in Table 2. Previous use of video visits was significantly associated with preference for video visits in the future. Among participants who had participated in a video visit since March 2020, 44.2% preferred an in-person visit and 31.4% preferred a video visit (P < .001). In comparison, of the participants without experience with video visits, 60.2% preferred an in-person visit and only 12.2% preferred a video visit (P < .001) (Table 2).

Younger adults were more likely than older adults to prefer video visits. Among participants aged 20 to 39 years, 42.3% preferred in-person visits and 25.9% preferred video visits compared with 64.5% of participants who preferred in-person visits and 12.6% who preferred video visits in the 60 years or older group (P < .001). Individuals with higher income were also more likely than those with lower income to prefer video visits.”

With multiple states trying to hold on to federal waivers and reimbursements for telemedicine services, telehealth itself could become a thing of the pandemic past, or used in certain cases, depending on patient preferences.

To read the rest of the paper on JAMA, click here.


Citation: Predmore, Z.S., Roth, E., Breslau, J., Fischer, S.H., & Uscher-Pines, L. (2021). Assessment of Patient Preferences for Telehealth in Post–COVID-19 Pandemic Health Care. JAMA Network Open. 4(12):e2136405. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.36405