The future of healthcare is virtual. As the data included in this analysis show, the COVID-19 pandemic has succeeded where earlier initiatives have failed: to get a majority of users try a virtual healthcare visit of some kind. Across all specialties, everyone has dipped their toe into the telehealth pool. Along with changing attitudes to working from home and online education, this may be COVID-19’s longest lasting legacy.
The survey data that follows is broadly representative of the American population, including all ages, ethnic groups, income levels and geographic locations. We are confident it is a representative snapshot of America’s attitudes to virtual healthcare. Seven key themes emerged from this data—we hope these offer you guidance as you try and navigate this new, more virtual world.
- Although telehealth is not new (we have been doing audio-only consults since the 1920s using ship-to-shore radio and video visits since the 1960s), COVID-19 has exposed most people to it, many for the first time.
- Willingness to use, and even a preference for, telehealth inversely correlates with age. However, we believe that the early exposure of Generation Z and millennials to telehealth will reinforce their preferences as they grow and begin utilizing more healthcare. This will have significant impact on the future of primary care as a business.
- For those who prefer in-person visits, most cited condition-specific needs, unsure availability from their provider, or general distrust. The latter two might be overcome with better marketing.
- More than one-third of those surveyed have used a direct-to-consumer or “online-only” provider. This is higher than expected. Online-only providers offering a range of telehealth services may put significant downward pressure on traditional primary care revenue.
- Telehealth price sensitivity inversely correlates with age. Half of younger users indicate that they are willing to pay more out-of-pocket for a telehealth visit than an office visit. We call this the “convenience premium.”
- While nearly 73% of those surveyed cited security and privacy of a telehealth visit as important, 65% also said they will use whatever system their provider uses and trust it as secure enough. Providers therefore have a responsibility to provide secure, private systems, but vendors may be constrained in their ability to charge for these features as they do not translate to customer demand.
- Although there are strong (inverse) correlations between telehealth use and age, there is little difference across income levels. Modality (video/voice/messages) also seems to be evenly distributed across ages and incomes, likely driven by what providers make available.