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Demand for telemedicine services surged during lockdown. This analysis by Comparis reveals that many non-Telmed policyholders also contacted doctors via telephone or the Internet.
During the lockdown from 16 March to 27 April 2020, non-urgent operations were banned and many medical establishments closed. In addition, many patients were so afraid of becoming infected that the waiting rooms of many doctors, therapists and hospitals stood empty. Medical consultations via telephone or the Internet became more popular instead. During this time, medical helpline consultations rose by 20-650%.
“Many patients, out of fear of catching coronavirus while visiting a doctor's surgery, overcame their scepticism towards obtaining medical advice on the phone or online,” explains Comparis health insurance expert Felix Schneuwly.
Figures provided by telemedicine providers back up this theory. During lockdown, it was mainly people without Telmed basic insurance who sought medical advice remotely. Unlike Telmed policyholders, these patients are not obliged to contact a Telmed provider first if they have any health issues.
On the other hand, according to industry leaders Medgate and Santé24, consultations with Telmed policyholders actually decreased, as non-critical doctor's appointments were postponed during lockdown and therefore there was no need for a remote pre-consultation.
The boom in telemedicine appointments during coronavirus also made it clear that many medical complaints can be treated via telephone or online without an additional in-person visit to a doctor. At onlinedoctor.ch, the rate is 87% and this was maintained during lockdown. At medi24.ch, 70% of cases were treated without a follow-up in-person consultation with a doctor.
Customer satisfaction surveys show that not only are telemedicine consultations cheaper, they are also good-quality. Soignez-moi.ch, for example, surveys patients after their consultation and again a week after treatment is completed. According to Romain Boichat, founder of Soignez-moi, 91% of customers are satisfied with their treatment.
“We can assume that these positive experiences with Telmed, particularly with non-Telmed policyholders, will boost the popularity of the Telmed model in the long term,” says Scheuwly. He anticipates that when people next switch health insurance in the autumn, many more basic insurance policyholders – particularly senior citizens – will opt for a Telmed model.
At the moment, some 15% of basic insurance policyholders are insured under a Telmed model. People opting for a Telmed model pay around 15-20% less than those choosing the standard basic insurance model.