When the pandemic and shutdowns began, virtual visits came into the spotlight. They were perfect for allowing older, high risk patients to see their doctor. Ensuring ongoing care without the risk of exposure to COVID 19 with in-person doctor visits. But even as the peak of the pandemic recedes (we think), it appears virtual visits are here to stay.
Virtual visits aren’t just safe, they’re convenient
Forcing patients into non-urgent virtual visits has made them realize, “why weren’t we always doing this?!” Patient behaviors will change as they recognize the convenience of online doctor visits. First, they will be much more discerning about which visits actually require in-person visits. This will evolve even further once a vaccine is available and we’re truly past the pandemic.
Consider that in-person visits require many patients to leave work early. That consequently requires them to ask their employer to leave early for a doctor’s appointment. Which may or may not lead to a discussion of their particular malady.
Leaving early may also require them to desert some of their duties or hand off those duties to a fellow employee. Which may also lead to a discussion of their medical issues with a colleague.
And this is all before the patient has to contend with a commute to the doctor’s office and the cost of parking. It’s no wonder more consumers will prefer a non-emergent virtual visit if their doctor offers it or if their condition allows for it. If they haven’t already, patients will realize that not only are virtual visits safe, they often suffice for a real in-person visit and are more convenient.
The one issue that may curtail a full blown embrace of virtual visits is the cost. During the pandemic, online visits for COVID 19 related and unrelated issues were covered by insurance companies. Now, as insurance companies curtail coverage for virtual visits, or shift some of the copay to consumers, virtual visits will continue to rise, but possibly not at as steep an incline as seen during the peak of the pandemic. But make no mistake, virtual visits are here to stay.