Half of Australians comfortable receiving medical services remotely


Tuesday, 12 October, 2021

Half of Australians comfortable receiving medical services remotely

Around 48% of Australian patients would choose to rely solely on face-to-face appointments once the country is out of the COVID-19 tunnel and half of respondents (49%) said they are now comfortable with receiving medical services remotely, with almost one in five (18%) feeling “very comfortable”. This is according to latest research by Nuance Communications.

The global study — which polled 10,000 adults across the US, UK, Australia, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, Spain and Mexico — conducted by OnePoll found that before the COVID-19 pandemic, 77% of Australian patients preferred to receive their medical advice in-person. Very few would have selected phone (9%) and video (3%) consultations as an alternative.

The pandemic forced healthcare organisations to transform the way they delivered patient services, and Australians were quick to adopt these new ways. While Australia was relatively COVID-free for a number of months during the past year, digital appointments have still become more common, and there has been a shift in both patients’ behaviour and mindset regarding delivery of care.

More than one in four (27%) adult Australian patients have turned away from face-to-face appointments as their preferred method for accessing medical advice and treatment, as trust in modern technologies grows.

In this new landscape, phone appointments, video appointments and a mixture of these alongside in-person visits are preferred by 42% of respondents. When asked why this was the case, removing travel times was by far the main advantage they cited (50%). Australian respondents also put healthcare workers’ conditions in their considerations, saying that they want to help relieve pressure on health service resources (35%) and that the service is the same face to face or remotely, and it shouldn’t matter where both doctors and patients are (35%).

Easing the documentation burden

In addition to being more inclined to access healthcare services remotely, many patients have become increasingly open to the use of modern technologies — such as artificial intelligence (AI) — over the course of the pandemic. In fact, almost two-thirds (65%) would be open to its use to produce clinical documentation, instead of relying on handwritten notes by their doctor.

When asked why, nearly three in five (58%) highlighted the potential to speed up appointments, almost half (47%) said they believed it would help their doctor focus on the diagnosis, while over a third (36%) felt it would lead to more accurate and detailed medical information.

Quality patient care depends on detailed and accurate clinical documentation. By enabling clinicians to compile records using just their voice, AI-powered technologies recognise and record long passages of speech, capturing the complete patient story at the point of care, whilst reducing repetition and supporting standardisation across departments. Given that humans speak at least three times faster than we type, integrating these types of technologies will free up clinicians’ time so they can spend more time seeing patients and delivering quality care.

Simon Wallace, Chief Clinical Information Officer at Nuance Communications, said, “Patients aren’t just open to smarter, tech-enabled services; they’re ready to actively choose those services if they reduce appointment time, allow practitioners to focus on diagnosis and treatment, or allow to relieve pressure from the country’s healthcare system.

“This gives healthcare providers a clear mandate to embrace modern, AI-powered technologies with the potential to improve experiences for patients and clinicians alike.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/agenturfotografin

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