Report finds half of older patients prefer digital tools to in-person consultations

The report surveyed over 100 UK GPs and 1,000 patients who visited their doctor in COVID-19.
By Sara Mageit
05:54 am
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Digital tools

A research report commissioned by digital transformation enabler, Mobiquity, and conducted by Censuswide, reveals that half of UK patients aged over 55 preferred digital tools instead of in-person consultations during COVID-19.

The report entitled, 'COVID-19: Ensuring a quality patient experience with the rise of digitisation in a healthcare setting' surveyed 301 GPs and 3,009 patients in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

Both surveys ran between 13.11.2020-23.11.2020 and found that the most preferred digital tools used by over 55s included remote monitoring (50%) and video examinations (50%).

WHY IT MATTERS

The report also found among the benefits highlighted by patients was the ability to see their GP quicker than normal. More than half (51%) of UK patients found that using digital tools led to quicker access to their GP. For GPs, the ability to prescribe appropriate treatment more easily was cited as the main benefit of digital tools.

Patients reported high levels of comfort when using digital tools. In the UK, over 3 in 5 patients felt comfortable using wearable tech (72%), telemedicine (69%), applications (69%), video-consultations (68%) and remote monitoring (67%). 

The report also reveals a high likelihood of adoption of digital health technologies in the future among GPs, with over three-quarters of UK GPs recognising that remote monitoring will be important to the future of medicine.

For patients, there is a similar willingness to use digital health tools in the future, with over half (51%) of UK patients considering using remote consultations in the future after their experience during COVID-19.

However, barriers to adoption were also referenced by patients and doctors surveyed. In the UK, 64% of patients would still prefer in-person consultations in the future, citing concerns over privacy and monitoring when using digital tools.

Technical issues were the most significant barrier to adoption for GPs, with over half of UK GPs reporting technical issues when using telemedicine.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

ORCHA has reported an 'explosion' in the adoption of digital healthcare since COVID-19. Their latest report found that health downloads were up from four to five million every day.

ON THE RECORD

Stefan Scheepers, business director of digital health, Mobiquity said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a profound digital transformation across society, rapidly accelerating the adoption of digital technologies by healthcare professionals. Indeed, our research shows that there was a high level of adoption among GPs during the pandemic across the UK, the Netherlands and Germany.

“What is surprising to see is that overall patients who saw their doctors in the pandemic had positive experiences when engaging with digital healthcare tools, and that there was a high level of satisfaction specifically among older patients over the age of 55.

“Despite this, the findings also show that there is room for improvement when using digital tools as part of everyday healthcare practices. These barriers were around patient adoption which was shown to be fairly low due to privacy and monitoring concerns. GPs also experienced technical issues while using digital technologies. 

Commenting on the report, Professor John Powell, University of Oxford said: “The restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have provided the impetus and opportunity for the rapid uptake of digital health solutions, especially video consultations and remote monitoring. Capturing the views of practitioners and patients on this transformation is vital in understanding the issues that influence successful adoption, scale-up and sustainability.

"It is notable that this report demonstrates that many patients reported positive experiences of using digital services at this time, particularly in terms of accessibility and convenience, and that the great majority of GPs who took part in the survey were enthusiastic and recognised the importance of the further digital transformation of their services.” 

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