The new, third wave of the Syneos Health™ study “Telemedicine Use and Field Force Engagement in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond,” available to download now, reveals important physician attitudes and dynamics with respect to telemedicine use at this stage of the pandemic. Here are some key highlights across all physician groups. For specialty breakdowns in primary care, oncology, pulmonology, cardiology and rheumatology, download the full report.

Physician Relationships with Telemedicine Platforms: Stabilized

The good news is that physicians’ relationship with telemedicine has remained steady over the last six months, with approximately three-quarters of them adopting it in their regular practices with a strong level of confidence and enthusiasm. Moreover, as restrictions have started to relax, there has been a decline in the number of telehealth visits, with more patients returning to the doctor’s office. The latest stats show that both patients (68%) and physicians (70%) have a strong preference for seeing each other face-to-face.

Physicians continue to believe their telehealth behavior is well aligned to how they practice in person, with most of them indicating that there are limited changes in their prescribing habits. They do however seem less cautious about prescribing new medications when engaging with patients via telehealth platforms. The downside is that (overall) patient visits are down around 30% from what they were this time last year.

Physician Relationships with Sales Reps: Essential 

88% of physicians remain strong in their belief that it is important to stay up to date on product information throughout the pandemic. While the frequency of in-person visits with sales reps has continued to decline over the last year, with most weekly visits shifting to monthly/quarterly, there seems to be a stronger appetite for more in-person visits in the coming months. For now, electronic detailing via email/text continues to be the channel of choice, followed by virtual meetings. There is a noticeable decline in their interest in connecting over the phone, yet they have a stronger interest overall in receiving promotional pieces in the mail.

Top Physician Concerns

As patients continue to lose their jobs and insurance coverage, physicians face a double-barrel concern. First, that patients have delayed treatment due to fear of seeking out medical attention during COVID-19, and second, that financial constraints mean that they can no longer afford proper care. For patients with or recovering from COVID-19, physicians face uncertainty about prescribing treatment for other conditions and scheduling necessary surgical procedures, once again resulting in treatment delays. Finally, even with vaccine rollout continuing to gain momentum, the health and safety of their staff, patients, and family weighs heavily on many physicians as they continue to practice medicine throughout the pandemic.

Download the report here.

About the Author:

Jodi Scarbrough leads the Custom Research team that forms part of the global Insights and Innovation team across the Syneos Health network. In her role at Syneos Health she is primarily responsible for supporting partners and clients across the healthcare continuum to make better decisions and understand the factors that influence the choices made by the stakeholder groups. Prior to joining Syneos, Jodi lead research, consulting and business development at Fuld & Co and Grail Research (Part of Monitor Group) along with being an independent consultant to private equity, medical device, pharmaceutical and bio-tech clients. She has experience across a wide range of traditional and emerging market research and consulting approaches, including unique expertise designing and facilitating in-person events. Jodi holds an MBA from the University of Cape Town and a Bachelor of Science from the University of the Witwatersrand where she graduated first in her class with distinction.