In 2021, Rock Health conducted an annual consumer adoption survey to track the prevalent modalities and telehealth user satisfaction. Accordingly, the survey depicted that urban dwellers, high-income earners, and people between 18 to 40 years were more likely to use telemedicine than the rest of the population.
Although telehealth should be accessible equally across the board, its adoption has remained skewed to recent findings. While the COVID-19 reshaped telehealth preference, the following population cohort were the most prolific users:
- The young population comprising individuals from ages 18 to 44
- People with a minimum income of $ 150,000
- Adults with a history of chronic conditions
The 2021 Digital Health Consumer Adoption Survey that involved at least 8,000 U.S. adults showed that the least consumers of telehealth and people with no experience in telehealth include the following:
- Adult above the age of 55
- People with an average annual income of $ 35,000 and below
- People living in the U.S. rural areas
- Uninsured people
- U.S. citizen taking no prescriptions
Although most primary healthcare providers in rural areas have introduced telehealth in 2020 and 2021, statistics show that 40% of rural respondents did use telehealth at all. Besides, 28% of the consumer of telehealth used the service for the first time. As a result, location remains pivotal in skewing telehealth access in the U.S. For example, 9% of rural respondents in the 2021 survey indicated that broadband and cellular connectivity remained the top barrier to telemedicine access.
Rock health survey also depicted that fewer men were likely to use telehealth compared to their female counterparts, a finding that contradicts the 2020 survey results. Besides, Non-white respondents such as Latinos, American Indians, Blacks, and Pacific Islanders used telehealth more than white respondents. This finding aligns with the 2020 Pew study that found Latinos and blacks use telehealth more than white respondents mainly because of health disparities.
Skew Towards Video Visits Preference
Rock Health survey indicates that 51% of the respondents preferred video telemedicine compared to other telehealth modalities. Unfortunately, video visit satisfaction rates declined between 2020 and 2021. The authors indicate that the latter is due to the shift in expectations around the purpose of telehealth. In 2020, the respondent believed telehealth as an alternative to in-person visits rather than a replacement to patient care in 2021. Virtual care assumed a new dimension, with the video visits increasing during the pandemic.