Australia had the largest uptake in new users of telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Dynata’s Global Consumer Trends New Normal report.
From surveying 11 countries including Australia, more than half of Australians (51%) consulted a doctor during the pandemic, and almost two thirds (59%) used telemedicine when doing so.
One in four Australians (24%) used a combination of telemedicine and in-person healthcare during the pandemic. Australians consulted a doctor during the pandemic more than any other country surveyed (51% compared to average 39%).
The majority of Australians (93%) used telemedicine services for the first time during the pandemic.
Australia had the highest first time uptake in telemedicine services compared to all countries surveyed (93% compared to average 84%).
Three in five Australians (59%) who used telemedicine reported the experience as being either extremely or very satisfactory.
James Burge, Dynata Managing Director for APAC, explained to The Carousel why he believed so many Australians to try telemedicine services for the first time. Here is what he told us;
Why do you think Australia had the largest uptake of telemedicine services during COVID-19?
Many factors have contributed to Australian’s uptake of telemedicine. The Australian Government’s decision to expand Medicare to cover telemedicine services has helped ensure the continued provision of primary healthcare in response to COVID, which will likely have some lasting impacts for the long term in how people access care in Australia. This coupled with travel and social restrictions limiting patients’ ability to make in-person visits to physicians, and technology providing a way for Australian’s to maintain contact with their healthcare professionals. There has also been strong support from the AMA (Australian Medical Association) and other key healthcare bodies in encouraging people to engage with telemedicine, playing a key role in its popularity.
In what way could this be a lesson learned from the pandemic?
That technology can play an active, and important, role in helping connect patients and healthcare professionals. Removing the barriers of access to healthcare should be a priority during a pandemic, and certainly can provide a blueprint for maintaining that connection when things return to normal.
How can this help the aged care industry and reduce the burden off hospitals?
With its ease-of-use and support from physician groups like the AMA, telemedicine can remove many of the barriers to consultation, ensuring people of all ages and vulnerable groups like the elderly can access support from the safety and convenience of their homes.