Virtual healthcare is poised for rapid growth…but where are the patients?

Health care — both how it is delivered and the care being provided — is undergoing a sea change. The shift to value-based payment will take different forms, but payment for the quality of care delivered will soon become the new norm. Shifting payment models will dramatically change healthcare as we know it today, and one of those changes will be the delivery of more care via virtual methods. Supported by increased connectivity, virtual healthcare promises enhanced care at a lower cost, and seems poised for rapid growth.


  • According to Forbes, information and analytics firm HIS predicts a 25% increase in video consultations per year through 2020 to nearly 5.4 million consultations, and telehealth overall is projected to be a $343 million industry by 2020.
  • Berg Insight reports that the number of remotely monitored patients jumped 44% in 2016, not counting the various connected devices used for personal health tracking. Berg estimates the number of remotely monitored patients will reach 50.2 million in the next four years, with about half of those patients using their own mobile devices as health hubs.


Patients are slow to adopt


With so much talk about the impending growth in virtual care, we thought it was time to measure actual adoption. Growth projections can be deceiving—an increase in usage from 1% to 2% is 100% growth, after all—and forecasts can be wrong. So in August 2017 Market Street surveyed 1003 U.S. residents to understand their use of healthcare, including virtual healthcare.


We found that patients have been slow to adopt virtual healthcare, and still overwhelmingly prefer traditional forms of healthcare. Here are two key takeaways from Market Street Research’s recent study, “Taking the Pulse of Patient Adoption of Virtual Healthcare”:


  • Patients are still primarily seeking health care through in-person channels. Of the survey respondents who used healthcare services in the past six months, 94% used an in-person channel, with freestanding urgent care centers the most popular option.
  • Wearable devices are leading the way in virtual care: 17% of those who used healthcare services in the past six months used some form of virtual care: among them, 68% utilized a remote monitoring device, while 22% used videoconferencing.


Strategies for increasing adoption


You may be wondering how to encourage patients to use virtual care, particularly as you build and need to deliver on the strategies for managing population care. Based on our experience, the answer is clear: enlist your primary care providers.


Though how we live has changed drastically over the last few decades, how we make healthcare decisions has not. Over Market Street’s nearly 40 years of experience conducting healthcare market research one fact has remained consistent: patients value their primary care providers above all else, and they trust them when they need medical advice. PCPs will be the key to encouraging consumer adoption of virtual technology, so a virtual strategy that has the support of your providers is off to a good start. Next step: make sure providers understand the key role they play in encouraging patient adoption of virtual care. Providers who are adept at encouraging the use of virtual services can drive your virtual strategy forward – and with it, the potential for improvements in care and cost savings.



Market Street Research’s new “Taking the Pulse” series provide timely data to shed light on the current status of various trends in healthcare, cutting through the hype and prophesizing to put your own experience into perspective. What would you like to hear about? Click on this link and send me an email with your ideas.


— posted by Stephanie Gonthier, Executive Vice President


2017 Telehealth Survey

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Telehealth Infographic 2017

Doctors’ Virtual Consults With Patients To Double By 2020
Remote patient monitoring market grew by 44 percent in 2016