2019 Consumer Survey: Majority of Consumers are Willing to Use Telehealth but Use Varies by Age

The adoption of telehealth has continued to nearly double year-over-year for the past decade. According to our new consumer survey, 8% of U.S. consumers have tried it and while this may seem like a small number at first, it equates to millions of people. Furthermore, another 66% of consumers say they are willing to try it. This represents a massive opportunity and great potential for telehealth to be part of regular care delivery.

With consumers having high demands when it comes to healthcare, one of the biggest avenues for adoption is to give people what they want, which varies considerably by age. Our consumer survey highlights the unique opportunities for telehealth programs within different demographics.

  • Millennials (ages 18-34): Millennials are the most likely generation to want to use telehealth and the most likely generation to have used it. In fact, Millennials are nearly three times as likely to have tried telehealth compared to other demographics. Specifically, Millennials want to use telehealth for mental health with nearly 40% reporting that they would regularly use telehealth for behavioral health management, higher than any other age demographic. Millennials are also the most likely age group to switch physicians to one who offers virtual care. To this generation however, cost is critical and is a major factor contributing to why many Millennials delay seeking medical care. Showing them how telehealth is a low-cost alternative to their traditional healthcare is important.

 

  • Xennials (ages 35-44): This age group is oftentimes the primary healthcare decision maker in their household—whether that be for themselves, their children or their aging parents. Engaging this group—72% of whom say they are willing to use a video visit—in telehealth could be the key to driving multi-generational usage of telehealth. Of those who are willing to use telehealth, 57% would use telehealth to save time, 58% would use it for faster service, and 58% for cost savings, so emphasizing how telehealth can meet these needs is important. Yet, barriers do exist. Specifically, a preference for in-person care and concerns about privacy are two of the largest inhibitors. Consumers ages 35-44 were also concerned about insurance coverage—more than any other age group.

 

  • Generation X (ages 45-54): This generation is highly pharma-focused – 42% of those in this group who use mobile health apps use pharmaceutical apps. They also are highly likely to be taking more than one medication to manage their health, so perhaps it’s no surprise that 80% of these consumers say they would use telehealth for prescription renewals. They also are the most willing generation to use telehealth for urgent care. But these consumers want to maintain their relationships with their existing providers and 69% say they are unwilling to switch primary care physicians (PCPs) for one who offers telehealth. Given their loyalty, telehealth services for middle-aged consumers should support existing relationships between patients and providers.

 

  • Baby Boomers (ages 55-64): When it comes to telehealth, Baby Boomers are a more captive audience than health professionals may realize, with 61% willing to try virtual care visits. In fact, just 4% of consumers ages 55-64 cited concerns about using technology as a barrier to telehealth adoption— significantly lower than all other age groups. Yet just 3% of Baby Boomers have tried telehealth. To help engage this age group we should emphasize convenience, with our survey showing that among those in this group who are willing to use telehealth, 60% reference time savings and convenience as the reason. Chronic disease management and follow-up care use cases are also important to this generation. Specifically, 61% of Baby Boomers say they would use telehealth for chronic disease management, and 55% say they would try telehealth in order to connect with their physician virtually after surgery or hospital discharge.

 

  • Seniors (ages 65+): While the senior population has the lowest interest overall, 52% of seniors are still open to using telehealth. They are also the least likely generation to delay seeking care and the most interested in receiving better access to healthcare professionals, making telehealth a great option for them to get quick and convenient access to healthcare. To continue engaging this population, we must recognize that seniors are the most eager to use telehealth for prescription renewals (84%) and chronic care (67%), which is likely due to the high prevalence of chronic conditions among this population. Follow-up visits is also important with the 65+ population being almost twice as likely to want to use telehealth for surgery or in-patient follow-up care compared to Millennials.

Ultimately, as organizations continue to introduce telehealth programs, it’s essential for them to understand where consumers see value in telehealth—and where they don’t—to maximize its worth and impact and increase adoption.

To view the full survey click here: https://www.americanwell.com/resources/telehealth-index-2019-consumer-survey/