With in-person avenues reduced, U.S. physicians turn to online tools

U.S. physicians are using digital resources more to care for patients, access information and improve their practice amid the global pandemic, fresh study data from Clarivate reveal.

The recent surge in use of telemedicine was born of necessity, as hospitals and practices cancelled many visits and procedures deemed elective or non-essential amid the initial spike in COVID-19 cases this past spring. Regulators moved to make access to telemedicine easier in response, cutting red tape and revamping reimbursement policies.

But the effects of this emergency shift toward remote care are likely to persist beyond the current crisis of pandemic. More than half of physicians surveyed in June and July (52%) said they intend to offer virtual consultations going forward. However, nearly 3 in 5 (58%) expressed lingering reservations about the quality of care they can offer remotely.

The share of doctors saying they’d participated in remote details soared amid COVID-19, after years of very little movement, and it’s clear that reps are checking in with physicians much more frequently via phone (as did 36% by summer) and especially email (44%). That tracks with physician preferences – 2 in 5 physicians surveyed in June and July cited email as a preferred means of connecting with physicians during the pandemic – more than any other means – while just 1 in 4 said they still prefer to meet with reps in person.