Prior to the onset of the pandemic, many consumers had little interest in using telehealth services. However, having done so throughout the COVID-19 crisis, many Americans seem to be hooked.
A new survey by Telehealth.com surveying 1,000 Americans ages 18 to 54 and older has concluded that while uptake of telehealth-based services was already growing prior to the pandemic, acceptance by consumers has shot up since COVID-19 forced providers to shift their practice largely to virtual visits. (Here’s a look at why I personally want to stick with telehealth to access my own care.)
According to the survey, 60% of Americans were aware of telehealth services prior to the rise of the coronavirus pandemic, while 30% percent said they weren’t aware. (Another 10% weren’t sure or didn’t answer.)
Of the 30% of those not previously aware of telehealth services, 48% said they became aware of virtual care since the start of the pandemic, while 38% still haven’t heard of them.
The respondents were mostly satisfied with the services they’re receiving, with the majority of respondents using telehealth rating the quality of their care as either “good” or “excellent.” When graded on a scale from 1 – 10, with 1 being “terrible” and 10 being “excellent,” 90% of respondents rated their care a score of 5 or higher. Also, 23% of people in this group gave them an 8, 14% rated them as a 9 and 22% rated them as a 10. Just 11% gave their telehealth services a rating of 4 or less.
Given these levels of satisfaction, it’s not surprising telehealth use is making new converts. Sixty-five percent of people who had heard of telehealth prior to the pandemic, and 59% of those who became aware of telehealth before it set in, said they expect to prefer getting services via telehealth going forward.
Also of note, of those respondents who became aware of telehealth during the pandemic, 47% said that they now have a telehealth appointment in place.
While none of this is particularly surprising on its face, patients’ future plans represent a new trend. The survey found that even after the pandemic ends, 65% of respondents will prefer telehealth care over other options, a stat that represents a significant shift in consumer preferences prior to COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the survey found some demographic quirks in telehealth awareness and usage. For example, it found that the higher an individual’s annual income, the more likely they were to have been aware of telehealth before the pandemic. It also found that people who earn $150,000 or more per year were almost twice as likely to be aware of telehealth than those who make less than $25,000 per year (82% vs. 42.5%).
Also, the survey found that a person’s ethnicity could predict their awareness and utilization of telehealth. For example, researchers found that white individuals were the most likely to have gotten care via telehealth both before and during the pandemic (at 57%), compared with 43% of Asian Americans, 44% of Hispanic Americans and 54% of Black Americans.