Doctors and patients support virtual care, but implementation remains low

26 July 2018

A new survey finds broad support from healthcare consumers and providers for virtual care like physician video consultations. However, only 14% of doctors have implemented the technology at their practices, with only a further 18% looking to do so in the future.

Virtual health care and telemedicine technology has the potential to revolutionize the delivery of medical care, making it easier to access in remote locations while allowing physicians to deal with a larger volume of patients. Key technologies available today include email consultations, virtual/video visits, remote patient monitoring at home and at health facilities, remote care management and coaching, and integration of data from wearables into medical records.

Though consumers and physicians see the benefits of virtual health care, new research from Deloitte finds that physicians are reluctant to embrace the technology, citing concerns over reimbursement, privacy, and other issues. The Deloitte 2018 Surveys of U.S. Health Care Consumers and Physicians, which will be released in full in August, examines healthcare providers’ and consumers’ attitudes and experiences with current and future applications of virtual healthcare.

The survey finds favorable overall perceptions from both sides on virtual care: 64% of consumers and 66% of physicians see improved patient access as a top benefit. Meanwhile, 52% of physicians said the technology would help improve patient satisfaction, and 45% said virtual care would help them stay connected with patients and caregivers. The survey further found that virtual care can help expand access by delivering care to patients at more convenient hours, as well as to those who don’t feel well enough to leave their home.Consumers and physicians agree on benefits of virtual careHowever, physicians seem reticent to actually integrate it into their practices. The Deloitte survey found that though 57% of consumers favor video consultations, only 14% of doctors have the capability today, and only 18% plan to add it in the future. The report cites that the current state of reimbursement and licensing in the area of telehealth is still complicated and unfavorable to physicians. Additionally, virtual care tech is still expensive, reaching a $60,000 price point in some cases.  Physicians also point to concerns over medical errors (36%), access to technology (35%), and data security (33%).

“However, getting buy-in from physicians may not be as difficult as organizations might expect: most physicians who have tried the technologies associated with virtual care feel good about them,” said Dr. Ken Abrams, managing director, Deloitte Consulting. “It's important to help physicians understand how virtual care improves care quality and lessens patient or caregiver burden.”

On the consumer side, attitudes are favorable overall, with 57% of those who haven’t tried virtual care willing to give it a shot. The top reasons cited by consumers for not wanting a virtual visit were the loss of personal connection with their doctor (28%) and concerns over quality of care (also 28%).Consumer interest in virtual care outpace physician adoptionToday, the most used virtual care technology is that of email consultations (38%) between patient and physician, followed by physician-to-physician email consultation (17%). Virtual/video visits had a 14% prevalence in the Deloitte survey.

Doctors may soon embrace virtual care to a greater degree, regardless of misgivings. For one thing, progress is already being made on the reimbursement model barriers, according to Deloitte. Consumer demand for virtual care is also likely to spur physicians to attempt to gain a competitive edge by providing virtual services. According to the report, nontraditional providers are already offering virtual care services; as such, physicians and hospitals would be wise to head off the potential competitive threat. Additionally, insurers and employers may favor systems with virtual care capabilities.

"Virtual care capabilities can help physicians meet ever-increasing demands on their time and skill: caring for more patients, dealing with rising clinical complexity, and helping patients play a greater role in their own care," concluded Steve Burrill, vice chairman, Deloitte. "Organizations are unlikely to achieve this without developing virtual care capabilities. If they fail to act now, they risk losing significant market share as customers seek other solutions to meet their needs."



Google topples Apple to take top spot on BCG's list of innovative firms

28 March 2019

After ranking first on strategy consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG)’s top innovators list for 13 years, Apple has finally been knocked off the top spot, landing at third place.

Google usurped Apple’s crown, and Amazon rose to second place on BCG's ranking of the top 50 global innovators. Microsoft and Samsung rounded out the top five, with Netflix, IBM, Facebook, Tesla, and Adidas filling out the top 10. BCG’s ranking was based on a global survey of more than 2,500 senior innovation leaders.

Tech firms dominated the top end of the innovators list. Traditional industries, however, still accounted for more than half of the top 50: Adidas, Boeing, BASF, Johnson & Johnson, and DowDuPont all ranked in the top 15.

The rising importance of digital technology – including artificial intelligence (AI), platforms, and ecosystems – was the central touchpoint of BCG’s survey. Top innovators are increasingly embracing AI in particular to develop new products and services, and to improve the internal innovation process itself.

"Digital technology and external innovation have become watchwords," Ramón Baeza, a BCG senior partner and the report's coauthor, said. "All of the top 10 companies – and many in the top 50 – use AI, platforms, and ecosystems to enable themselves and others to pursue new products, services, and ways of working."

2019 Most Innovative Companies

Platforms provide a foundation on which companies can develop their business offerings, with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft's Azure offering some of the leading cloud-based platform services. According to BCG, ecosystems go a step further, pulling together technologies, apps, platforms and, other services to build an integrated solution. Android and iOS, for example, are now a complex ecosystem of telecoms, phone manufacturers, and app developers. AI, meanwhile, simulates human intelligence to achieve groundbreaking new technologies such as self-driving cars and "smart" digital assistants.

The top firms on BCG’s list extensively use AI, platforms, and ecosystems. Google has invested heavily into AI, which is apparent in the company's smart speaker Google Home, the accurate autocompletion of sentences in Gmail, or in its autonomous driving venture. Android, meanwhile, is a truly expansive ecosystem.

Amazon utilizes the cutting-edge Alexa AI voice technology as well as the widely used AWS platform. Apple offers Siri and iOS.

Of survey respondents, 90% said their firms are investing in AI, with more than 30% expecting it to be the innovation area with the highest impact on the businesses in the next three to five years.

Just under 20% of respondents said their companies were strong innovators and above average in AI innovation (what BCG terms "AI leaders"). Among the subgroup of AI leaders, 94% said they see AI as important to their companies’ future growth, as opposed to 56% of AI "laggards" (who rate their AI capabilities as below average).

"AI will have a significant impact on business processes, but its biggest potential lies in developing new products and services that can yield major revenue streams over time," Michael Ringel, a BCG senior partner and the report's coauthor, said.

Which areas of innovation are you actively targeting?

McDonald’s (21st on the list) is using AI algorithms on digital menus that change according to time of day, restaurant traffic, and the weather. Philips (29th) last year launched an AI platform that allows healthcare industry workers to access advanced analytics that curate and analyze healthcare data.

AI is already unlocking value for advanced users: 46% of AI leaders said AI-enhanced products and services represented 16% of sales, versus 10% for laggards.

In a world of platforms and ecosystems, the BCG report found partnership models are gaining steam. Strong innovators have upped their partnership usage from 2015-18, with incubator use rising from 59% to 75%, academic partnerships from 60% to 81%, and company partnerships from 65% to 83%.

Platforms and ecosystems help facilitate innovation, while expanding reach and collaboration, allowing for stronger, multiparty solutions. “Not all ecosystems are alike, however. They have different types of glue that bind their participants. Money is one type, of course, but knowledge, data, skills, and community can be equally important," Florian Grassl, BCG partner and report coauthor, said.

Four companies on 2018's top 10 list were also in the top 10 in 2005: Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM. BCG deems these companies “serial reinventors,” which sets them up well for continued innovation dominance. Google continues to revise its offerings and algorithms, Amazon disrupts new categories and builds new services, and Microsoft and IBM have successfully transitioned into cloud-based services.

"The tools and technologies of innovation evolve,” BCG’s report states. “The basic orientation toward change – never being satisfied and always being willing to reinvent oneself – remains part of some companies’ lifeblood.”