A Recent Survey
Despite recent emphasis on patient-centred care, most healthcare research still seems to focus on physician, facility, or even system-level results: dollars saved per patient, cost per treatment, tool adoption by specialty, etc.
But when considering a tool such as VirtualCare, or eReferrals, there’s a degree of patient intimacy and engagement that makes it increasingly critical to examine things through a different lens. To this end, we recently surveyed over 200 VirtualCare patients. Our team wanted to understand how the technology may be having an impact on patients’ satisfaction levels and perceived level of care.
Nearly everyone who responded to the survey agreed or strongly agreed that VirtualCare saved them time (94%) and was more convenient than an in-person visit (93%). What was of particular interest though, was the level of overall care satisfaction. Despite the lack of physical interaction or in-person care, patients were quite happy, with just over half of all surveyed patients responding that VirtualCare was the “same” as an in-person visit. Nearly 1/3 felt that VirtualCare was in fact, better. nearly 3/4 of those surveyed indicated they would “recommend the tool to friends and family”.
Our UX/UI team has been diligently interviewing end users, running focus groups, and continually finessing the VirtualCare interface. As a result, nearly 80% of respondents felt the tool was easy to navigate. The survey uncovered many interesting possibilities, including a fairly strong correlation (59%) between “easy navigation” and “satisfaction with care received”. Care satisfaction is undoubtedly complex, but this correlation helps to identify at least one factor impacting patients’ satisfaction with VirtualCare. How does this impact physicians or clinics? We asked patients what they would have done if there was no access to VirtualCare. There were 3 telling categories of response:
- A large portion of those surveyed (64%) said they would default to old behaviours and simply book an appointment, which could perpetuate existing healthcare system challenges, including delayed care and potentially worsening symptoms.
- A small number of patients (16%) indicated they would ‘call the office and resolve the issue over the phone’. This could be problematic as it puts undue (often unbillable) burden on physicians and/or their administrative staff, which negatively impacts a clinic’s bottom line.
- An almost equal number of patients (13%), would skip their physician’s office completely, opting instead for a walk-in clinic or the emergency room. Both options place more of a cost burden on the system, affect continuity of care for patients and impact physician remuneration.
Ultimately, the survey results uncover a vital link between the convenience of VirtualCare and patients’ overall sense of care satisfaction. It also points to a relatively easy solution to the lingering gaps that exist in our healthcare system: lack of access, declining patient satisfaction, increasing operational costs, disconnected and fragmented care. It makes the need and demand for VirtualCare more real, more powerful and more urgent than ever before. Our team is incredibly excited for what the future of primary care holds, and to see the transformative potential of VirtualCare come to life.