One in 10 Americans Use Telehealth, But Nearly 75% Lack Awareness or Access, J.D. Power Finds
Tuesday, August 6th, 2019
While 9.6% of Americans have used telehealth services, nearly three-fourths (74.3%) say they either don't have access or are unaware of telehealth options, according to a J.D. Power pulse survey tracing telehealth user experience, hurdles to adoption and real-world patient concerns.
The initial survey, which is a supplement to the full 2019 J.D. Power Telehealth Satisfaction Study that will be published this fall, found that lack of access and awareness for telehealth options is the primary hurdle to adoption.
Key findings from the pulse survey include:
Telehealth usage more likely among young, female patients: Patients age 18-to-24 have used telehealth more than any other age group (13.1%), with seniors (65+) maintaining the lowest utilization rate of any age group (5.3%). However, adults 35-44 show the second-highest level of engagement with telehealth, with 11.8% saying they have utilized telehealth services within the past year. Usage is considerably higher among females (10.4%) than among males (8.7%).
Low levels of awareness and access hindering adoption: Overall, 39.7% of consumers say their health system or insurance provider does not offer telehealth services, while another 34.6% said they are unaware if any service is offered.
Awareness lowest in rural areas: This lack of awareness is pronounced in rural areas (72%) where telehealth is supposed to increase access. Only 8.7% of rural residents have adopted the service, compared with 11.7% of suburban and 11% of urban residents.
Quality of care is a concern: Nearly half (48.7%) of respondents believe the quality of care received in a telehealth session is lower than that of a doctor's office visit, while only 6.2% perceive the quality to be higher, and 45.1% believe it to be the same. Another 43% also believe a telehealth session to be less personal than an office visit.
West leads, northeast slow on adoption: Usage is highest among patients in the western region (11.1%), compared with just 5.7% in the Northeast.
"Telehealth technology is maturing, but the relatively low levels of engagement we're seeing implies that major initiatives in both patient education and consumer experience are the next steps in making Telehealth a staple for healthcare delivery in the United States," said Greg Truex, Managing Director of Health Intelligence at J.D. Power. "For patients that stand to gain the most from healthcare, telehealth needs to be promoted as a way to reduce costs to both the healthcare system and consumers, all while maintaining a high level of care."