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Consumers want hybrid virtual/in-person care—but there are still some kinks to work out

The news: Consumers prefer a hybrid model of care that combines in-person and virtual care over just telehealth or just in-person care, per a new GoodRx survey of over 1,000 patients and 600 providers.

  • Over 60% of respondents plan on using a hybrid model of care post-pandemic.
  • And only 12% of respondents wanted to ditch virtual care altogether and opt for only in-person visits.

Telehealth’s rise to relevance: Consumers flocked to telehealth amid the pandemic and became accustomed to its convenience, accessibility, and cost-friendly entry point.

  • Only 17% of consumers used telehealth prior to the pandemic, but 47% turned to telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Telehealth visits grant consumers convenience and accessibility. They can easily schedule appointments online instead of dealing with phone calls, and they can access providers on-demand, oftentimes 24/7, for their care needs.

Telehealth can also improve overall quality of care by tending to a more personalized patient-provider relationship. Around 40% of consumers say they interact with providers more because of telehealth.

And virtual visits are often cheaper than in-person visits. An average telehealth visit costs $79, while an in-person visit can cost more than double that.

What about consumers who aren't using telehealth? While there’s a chunk of consumers who prefer traditional in-person care, most just haven’t found the opportunity to try it.

  • 36% of consumers prefer in-person visits and 25% haven’t used telehealth because they’re unfamiliar with it—but most of them (62%) just haven’t had an issue that required a telehealth visit.

The catch with hybrid care? Telehealth isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution across all specialties/patient needs, and high rates of virtual no-shows could threaten providers' plans to go hybrid.

  • Areas like mental health and chronic care have the largest telehealth growth, while other specialties may not integrate as smoothly with telehealth.

Plus, 45% of providers said the no-show rates for telehealth visits were higher or much higher than in-person rates.

  • This is probably because of the low risk of cancellation—it is not as expensive to cancel a virtual appointment, and patients can easily reschedule another appointment online.