A recent study led by researchers at Harvard Medical School analyzed claims data from Optum plan data over the last few years, concluding that telemedicine adoption has still yet to take off – in rural areas. The tip here is the assumption that telemedicine was designed to administer care in hard to reach rural areas.
While there are more state mandates that require coverage of telemedicine as a care option, it is important to note that patients do understand that there is a mix such as primary care, urgent care and acute care options. This is especially true for consumers who live in urban areas.
So what can be the reason for low adoption in rural areas. Perhaps it has to do with comparing degree of trust in urban vs rural areas. Rural patients may prefer in person interactions as more trusting and may not be as comfortable with relaying private medical information over video.
Much more importantly, is that perhaps consumers are not even aware of the services. Sometimes poor adoption can be improved by better technology integrations – enabling consumers to access such services where they already access other services whether in person or technology bases. This bring telemedicine partnerships in mind such as American Well with Philips, Teladoc with CVS Minute Clinics, MDLive with Walgreens. Although time will tell if the above integrations are the most effective ones for the targeted population.