On 20 May 2022, Telemedicine Companies (LET) presented the results of a study between companies, which in particular shows the key role of teleconsultation in access to care, especially in underserved areas.
The professional association Les Entreprises de télémédecine brings together around forty companies engaged in the development of telemedicine in France. For several months, she conducted the first company-wide observational study of the use of teleconsultation in France to better understand what patients using teleconsultation share. It was performed by the expert firm Télémédecine 360, with the trusted third party Heva for the analysis. The results were disseminated on Friday 20 May at the ParisSanté Campus.
Medical deserts at the top of the rankings
First lesson: the demand for access to care is great in medical deserts, and teleconsultation largely meets this demand. According to the study, the use of teleconsultation is 2.5 times higher in medical deserts. Patients who teleconsult from a medical desert are therefore 45% higher, and while 17.3% of the French population live in a medical desert, 25.1% of the patients who teleconsult from there, ie. 7.8 points more. Among teleconsultants, 2.5 times more patients have no attending physician compared to the general population: 27.6% versus 10.9%.
Reduce emergency calls and save time
Almost a fifth of the teleconsultation activity takes place outside the opening hours of the city clinics, during the outpatient opening hours. It thus reduces the waiver of care and visits to the emergency room. The use of teleconsultation at night is actually almost twice as high on weekends as during the week (17.2% versus 10.8%). This makes it possible to further avoid increased use of emergency preparedness. Also during the day, teleconsultation would fill the gaps in the management of unplanned care.
An advantage highlighted in the study is the speed of access to a teleconsultation with an average waiting time between the request and the agreement of 9 hours, in a median of 2 hours, according to the models from the companies participating in the study. A teleconsultation lasts on average 10.5 minutes or 41% less than a physical consultation (18 minutes on average).
A tool that is accessible to everyone
Teleconsultation is available to everyone, even if the patients who use it are younger than the general population: 30 years on average, compared to 48 years in the general population. Logically, the service is more interesting for technophiles and working people in terms of the compatibility of the schedules with their working day.
In addition, teleconsultation would capture a population that rarely goes to the doctor. Persons over 50 and children under 15 are not excluded, and each represents almost 10% of the patients who have teleconsulted during the period.
In addition, 64.3% of users are women, which corresponds to a survey from February 2022, according to which they bear the majority of the medical burden. 67% of them declare that they are the parent who takes care of the medical tasks concerning the children. Finally, teleconsultation is also used by everyone, including the most disadvantaged social categories: 7.7% of patients are in fact beneficiaries of Complementary Health Solidarity (CSS).
No interruption of practice
Teleconsultation remains a way of accessing traditional care, even though it has become part of daily practice. 8 out of 10 teleconsultations take place during office hours and 9 out of 10 on weekdays. The practice was first developed for access to a primary care physician: 89% of the teleconsultations were performed by general practitioners (against 11% by specialists). In addition, the prescription percentage (medicine or not) after a teleconsultation is of the same order of magnitude as face to face (89% in the study against 80.7% face to face for prescription medicine alone).