New data shows what doctors think of telehealth—we detail how they are underutilizing virtual care

The data: The AMA released results of its 2021 Telehealth Survey, which examined telehealth-related insights and experiences of 2,232 US physicians to highlight how doctors are using telehealth and how they plan to use it in the future.

  • The survey found that doctors are enthusiastic about the tech. 85% of the doctors surveyed reported using telehealth, and 70% said their organization is motivated to keep using it.
  • Most practices view patient satisfaction (50%), access to care (48%), clinical outcomes (34%), and operational efficiency and effectiveness (32%) as top measures of value for telehealth.

The opportunities: These survey findings elucidate three areas where providers aren’t realizing the full value of virtual care.

1. Patient engagement.

Most physicians (63%) said 75% or more of their telehealth visits are with returning patients. Providers can tap patient engagement tools to foster stronger patient-provider relationships and drive up telehealth usage among the patient population they treat.

  • For example, tools like b.well Connected Health’s that emphasize patient centricity and streamline the patient experience could help.

2. Remote patient monitoring (RPM).

A large number of the doctors surveyed (76%) reported that RPM data is usually shared manually (over the phone or via email). So it’s unsuprising that just 8% were actually using RPM tech with their patients.

  • It appears RPM tools are not integrated well enough to become an easy part of doctors’ regular workflows. Manually sharing data versus automatically capturing is a clunky process that can lead to self-reported/human errors—and it’s a symptom of poor integration.
  • User-friendly RPM tools that automatically populate health dashboards and alert doctors when health metric patterns are less common, but would deliver much higher value to patients and doctors. Current Health, for example, collects health data and uses AI to predict disease progression to help clinicians deliver more tailored care.

3. Hospital and emergency department follow-up care.

Doctors are mostly using telehealth for medical (72%), chronic disease (68%), specialty care (49%), and mental health (44%) management. Hospital-level care and ED follow-up care are not being delivered as much through telehealth (33%). This underscores the opportunity for hospital-at-home solutions to make virtual hospital-level care more widely possible.

This would be even more valuable as the senior population rises and providers struggle to meet demand: Older adults(65+) are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized than middle aged adults (45-64), per the CDC.