Welcome to Telehealth Roundup, highlighting news and features about emerging trends in telemedicine and telehealth.
Texting, Tweeting, and Smoking at Virtual Visits
Telehealth may be giving patients a way to be distracted during appointments, new survey data showed.
Nearly 44% of Americans had a telehealth appointment during the COVID-19 public health emergency, and many reported multitasking during the visit, reported health technology company DrFirst.
In an online survey of 1,002 adults conducted in June, 73% of male and 39% of female telehealth patients said they were distracted during a virtual visit.
Most common distractions were web surfing, checking email, or texting at 24.5%, and watching news, TV, or a movie at 24%.
Many respondents reported checking social media (21%), eating a snack or meal (21%), playing a video game (19%), or exercising (18%). Some said they were smoking a cigarette (11%), driving a car (10%), or having a “quarantini” or other alcoholic drink during their appointment (9.4%).
In Forbes, Jessica Gold, MD, MS, of Washington University in St. Louis, noted patients aren’t the only ones distracted during virtual appointments. Physicians reported that notifications constantly going off during video visits are disruptive, too.
“Patients and doctors both report techniques to minimize distraction, including trying to close all the windows on their computer and putting their phone outside of their reach,” Gold wrote. One physician switched to a pager instead of a cell phone to convey she’s responding to work if she’s interrupted.
But the next time someone on either side of a telehealth conversation asks you to repeat something, Gold said, “you do have to wonder….what were they doing instead?”
How Pharma is Capitalizing on Telehealth
Pharmaceutical companies are creating ways to use telehealth to ease the path to new prescriptions during the pandemic, FiercePharma reported.
Telehealth is part and parcel of a marketing strategy for a new contraceptive gel of lactic acid, citric acid, and potassium bitartrate (Phexxi), said Evofem Biosciences chief commercial officer Russ Barrans at a panel discussion during FiercePharma‘s Digital Pharma Innovation Week.
Using social media to reach potential customers, Evofem developed a way for women to bypass their regular physicians by taking a short online survey through Populus Media and if qualified, get a prescription for home delivery or pharmacy pick-up.
Targeted marketing can make the difference between success and failure in telehealth, Barrans noted. Evofem used a partner firm to identify women on Facebook who were likely to be interested in its contraceptive product and offered them a consultation with a nurse. The company estimated about 200 women a month would respond; in the first month, over 1,000 did, FiercePharma said.
“The old days of spending $50 million in advertising on TV are gone,” Barrans stated. “To me, the critical point around whether other therapeutic areas will be able to leverage this as well is [that] you can’t do a general approach. You really have to find where is your audience, how do I speak to them, and how do I drive them to action?”
Telemedicine Claims Lines Go Flat
Telehealth continued to demonstrate staying power, with claims lines — the individual services or procedures listed on an insurance claim — changing little from July to August, the latest FAIR Health Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker indicated.
“After several months of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth has persisted in showing high utilization across the country,” FAIR Health president Robin Gelburd said in a statement.
Telehealth’s share of medical claims lines was 6.00% in…