Momentive study: demand for telehealth softens

TECHNOLOGY

Momentive study: demand for telehealth softens

Telehealth visits are comparable to in-person visits to a health provider in terms of availability of providers and cost of care, but fall short when it comes to quality of care.

Zoe Padgett

August 26, 2022 | 4 min read

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Key findings:

  • Most adults in the U.S. still depend on in-person healthcare, with less than half attending a telehealth visit in the past 12 months
  • Out of four key dimensions of customer satisfaction measured among telehealth patients, telehealth outperforms in-person healthcare on just one, speed to access care, while patients overwhelmingly prefer in-person care over telehealth on the metric of “quality of care”
  • The nation is split on whether tech companies entering the healthcare realm is a good thing (24%) or a bad thing (26%); 47% had no opinion
  • About 1 in 6 Gen Z’ers (18%) and Millennials (16%) have used a mental health treatment app, like BetterHelp or Talkspace

Demand for in-person healthcare exceeds that for telehealth

Despite the growing necessity of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, most adults in the U.S. (55%) still go to a private doctor’s office when they get sick or need professional advice about their health, with only 3% reporting a telehealth provider as their usual source of care. Less than half (37%) of adults in the U.S. have attended a telehealth visit in the past 12 months, compared to 78% who have attended an in-person visit. The youngest and oldest adults are least likely to have seen a telehealth provider in the past year, with only 26% of Gen Z and 34% of the Silent Generation using telehealth while Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers hover around 40%.

The rise of telehealth may be slowing down, as 37% of adults would like to use telehealth services in place of in-person visits less often than they currently are, compared to only 17% who would like to use telehealth more often (42% would like to use it about the same amount). This percentage is highest for the youngest adults, with 42% of Gen Z preferring to use telehealth less often.

Although telehealth’s popularity may be waning, that trend doesn’t extend to every segment of the digital healthcare marketplace. Adults in the U.S. are happy to have more data on their personal health, with 61% reporting they have about the right amount of data and 31% reporting they would prefer to have more data on their health. Only 6% would prefer to have less data on their health.

Quality of care is the biggest concern about telehealth

Telehealth outperforms in-person healthcare on just one out of the four key measures of customer satisfaction examined in this study. Almost twice as many healthcare patients who have accessed telehealth services say they prefer telehealth visits to in-person visits in terms of their "speed to access care" (43% vs. 24%). However, telehealth and in-person healthcare are much more evenly matched in terms of cost (telehealth has a slight lead, 24% vs. 19%), and availability of providers (in-person has a slight lead, 34% vs. 27%). And crucially, patients overwhelmingly prefer in-person care over telehealth on the metric of “quality of care” (55% vs. 10%). 

Quality of care is the biggest concern adults in the U.S. have about using telehealth services, with 1 in 3 (35%) identifying this as a concern. Higher income adults were the most worried about quality of care. Almost half (44%) of those with an income of $100,000 or more identified quality of care as a concern about using telehealth services, compared to 29% of those with an income below $50,000.

Black, Hispanic, and younger adults show more interest in healthcare services offered by tech companies like Amazon

When asked about the recently launched Amazon Care program, the nation was split on whether tech companies entering the healthcare realm was a good thing (24%) or a bad thing (26%); 47% had no opinion. Black and Hispanic adults were much more likely than White adults to approve (37% vs. 19%). 

Younger adults were less skeptical than older adults, with 39% of Gen Z and 48% of Millennials somewhat or very likely to use the service if covered by the insurance, compared to 22% of Boomers and only 13% of the Silent Generation. A higher percentage of those with lower incomes were also somewhat or very likely to use the service – 41% of those with an income below $50,000 compared to 31% of those with an income of $100,000 or more.  

Perhaps telehealth consumers just want something new, as 40% of those who have used telehealth services in the last 12 months are somewhat or very likely to use Amazon Care if it’s covered by their insurance compared to 32% of those who haven’t used telehealth.

Mental health treatment apps are convenient for younger adults

A bright spot in the telehealth market may be mental health treatment apps like BetterHelp and Talkspace. Although market penetration is low, with about 10% of U.S. adults having used these apps, those who use them tend to like them, with about three in four (73%) somewhat or very likely to recommend these apps to a family member or friend who needed mental health treatment. BetterHelp is the most popular – 42% of those who have used a mental health treatment app used BetterHelp – but there is plenty of space in the market, with many using apps like Zoom to connect with providers.

These apps are much more common among younger adults; about 1 in 6 Gen Z’ers (18%) and Millennials (16%) have used a mental health treatment app, compared to 10% of Gen X’ers and almost no Boomers (3%) or Silent Generation (1%). The main draw of these apps is convenience, with users saying they like that it’s easy to get an appointment (36%) and that there is no travel involved (36%).

Read more about our polling methodology here

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