Convenience and cost are the key drivers of telehealth adoption for American consumers, but lack of awareness is an issue, according to recent findings from American Well’s Telehealth Index: 2019 Consumer Survey. Telehealth leader American Well commissioned Harris Poll to conduct an online study among over 2,000 adults to measure usage and sentiment toward telehealth. The results are weighted to be representative of the American adult population across standard demographics.
Majority of Consumers Open to Telehealth, Adoption Continues to Grow
The survey finds 66 percent of Americans are willing to use telehealth and 8 percent have had a telehealth visit with a doctor. While consumers value and recognize telehealth for its convenience, fast service and cost savings, 17 percent of consumers willing to try virtual care are not sure if their insurance plans cover the service, reaffirming the industry need for increased consumer education and awareness around telehealth’s availability and value.
Barriers to Consumer Telehealth Adoption
While most consumers are willing to use telehealth, 34% said they are not willing to use the technology due to:
1. A Preference for In-Person Care
2. Concerns About Privacy
3. Uncertainty About Reimbursement
4. Concerns About Technology
5. Uncertainty About How to Use It
Millennials Are Most by Telehealth’s Convenience
Findings show that Millennials are most motivated by telehealth’s convenience, with 74 percent of 18-34-year-olds and 72 percent of 35-44-year-olds saying they are willing to use the technology. Millennials are nearly three times as likely to have had a video visit with a doctor compared to other demographics. Moreover, nearly 40 percent of Millennials say they would regularly use telehealth for behavioral health management, also higher than any other age demographic.
Of the top 10 health conditions affecting millennials today, six of them are behavioral health conditions, including major depression, substance use disorder and psychotic conditions. Major depression and hyperactivity among millennials have seen a 31% and 29% increase, respectively, over the last three years—indicating that these are growing concerns among the age demographic.
Seniors Are Eager to Use Telehealth for Chronic Disease Management, In-Patient Follow-Up
Seniors are the most interested in receiving better access to healthcare professionals, which they valued almost as much as cost savings. Seniors are the most eager to use telehealth for chronic care (67%), which is likely due to the high prevalence of chronic conditions among the population.
That’s one reason why 73 percent of seniors who are willing to try telehealth point to faster service as the biggest motivator—higher than any other generation. With additional telehealth reimbursement for Medicare beneficiaries participating in Medicare Advantage plans beginning in 2020, there is an increasing opportunity to support seniors’ use of telehealth to manage chronic conditions and for prescription renewals.
In addition, the 65+ population was almost twice as likely to want to use telehealth for surgery or in-patient follow-up care compared to millennials. Interest in this type of care increased with age, which could speak to older populations having more of a need for follow-up care in general.
Consumers Delay Care Because It Takes Too Long to See A Doctor and Due to Cost
Seventy percent of consumers report that they have delayed seeking care for a health problem. While the most common reason for delaying care is that patients “thought the problem would go away,” the second and third most common reasons are that it “takes too long to see [the] doctor” and “cost.” Higher awareness of telehealth availability could potentially decrease the rates of delayed care.
Adoption of Personal Health Monitoring Devices and Health Apps is Increasing
Two-thirds of consumers use personal health monitoring devices and 51 percent report using mobile health apps. While millennials are more likely to use health apps for nutrition and workouts, older generations are more likely to engage with their pharmacy and health insurance apps.
Blood Pressure Monitors Most Widely Used Wearables
Blood pressure monitors were the most widely used wearable devices among consumers, especially seniors. Of those who use wearable devices, 83% of seniors reported they use a blood pressure monitor. Millennials also utilize blood pressure monitoring devices (46%).
This age demographic is particularly interesting, as blood pressure monitors are being used by the fitness fanatics, as well as by those suffering from hypertension—the most common health condition affecting millennials today. Wearable devices like blood pressure monitors and glucose meters can be integrated within telehealth programs to deliver more complete, effective care for patients with chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and more.
Why It Matters
“The industry recognizes telehealth’s enormous potential, and analysts continue to indicate its market growth in the coming years. At American Well, it’s our goal to work alongside our provider and health plan partners to identify what patients value when it comes to telehealth. Through this survey, we’ve learned that consumers see value in telehealth and want to use it for a variety of reasons—urgent care, behavioral health, and chronic care management, to name a few. We will continue to work tirelessly alongside our partners to close the gap between telehealth accessibility and adoption, pointing to successful use cases that show its potential to increase patient satisfaction and provide the best care outcomes,” said Roy Schoenberg, CEO at American Well.