Doximity study on telehealth flawed

Over 73% of patients plan to continue using telemedicine platforms post-pandemic, according to Doximity’s second edition of its State of Telemedicine Reportwhich was released today. As part of the report, Doximity, the leading digital platform for U.S. medical professionals, analyzed the adoption of telemedicine across its physician user base from January 2020 through June 2021 and conducted a study of patients’ experiences with telemedicine during the same time frame. This self-serving report is flawed.

According to Doximity, “this new report found that the number of clinicians who use telemedicine as part of their practice is high. Research suggests that telemedicine will continue to be widely used, as over 73% of patients report that they plan to receive care through telemedicine after the pandemic”.

First, let’s remember that Doximity offers telemedicine as one of their products. That alone is reason to cast doubt about the findings, but this report is too general and doesn’t go into enough depth.

Of course, people would rather use telehealth than go through the hassle of scheduling and visiting their doctor, but we need to understand the context of telehealth. Patients are OK with telehealth for routine visits like asking for an Rx renewal or following up on standard tests. Still, telehealth will NOT replace a visit to a physician’s office for more serious issues.

Physicians need to treat the “whole” patient, which means meeting with the patients in person. Telehealth will have its uses, but it can’t replace the trained physician’s eye. What happens, for example, when a physician asks a patient about their weight? Data seems to indicate that most patients will underestimate their weight when asked by an HCP. Obese patients should be counseled in person, not over a computer screen.

Research targeted at investors should never be taken at face value. A quick reference of website traffic statistics shows that Medscape’s traffic towers way above Doximity for HCP traffic.

Yesterday was an excellent example of how “hype” can’t replace reality. Good Rx saw its stock tank 38% on lower revenue estimates. For investors that had just become accustomed to getting mid-to-high 30s% CAGR growth, management to so bluntly signal to investors that after 2022, its growth rates will slow down slightly is terrible news at an awful time. GoodRx’s Q4 earnings were not in line with investors’ expectations. Investors wanted to be blown away by its guidance. However, as it turns out, even at the high end of its guidance, it’s still below what analysts had for its revenue consensus.

When it comes to the hype around “telehealth” and other healthcare start-ups, we all need to ask hard questions and ask what’s hidden in general research.