- Telehealth usage was four times higher than a year ago, but the industry and patients are still grappling with growing pains including service limitations, difficulty accessing appointments and inconsistent care, a survey from J.D. Power found.
- From 2020 to 2021, overall satisfaction with both direct-to-consumer and payer-sponsored telehealth services declined, according to the survey. Patients frequently cited limited services, lack of awareness of costs and confusing technology requirements.
- Among direct-to-consumer brands, Teladoc ranked highest for telehealth satisfaction, followed by MDLive. Among payer-sponsored telehealth services, UnitedHealthcare ranked the highest, followed by Humana and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, both in a tie for second, the survey found.
Telehealth usage exploded last April amid lock downs and stay-at-home orders but has since tapered off from record highs. While patients and clinicians are still using the services, a year later they say some of the barriers and burdens are becoming more clear.
J.D. Power's telehealth satisfaction survey, now in its third year, ranks customer satisfaction on four factors: customer service, consultation, enrollment and billing.
It surveyed more than 4,600 healthcare consumers in June and July who used a telehealth service in the past year.
More patients have used telehealth services since last year's survey across all generations. While 9% of patients surveyed in 2020 reported accessing telehealth services, that number rose to 36% in 2021's survey.
Generation Y, defined as those born between 1977 and 1994, along with pre-boomers born before 1946, reported having the highest usage.
Respondents said convenience, the ability to receive care quickly and safety reasons led them to use virtual care services. But they've struggled with barriers including access to certain services and cost.
That's especially true among higher-risk patients, whose overall satisfaction was 85 points lower than patients who considered themselves in excellent health. Healthier patients were much more likely to say they received clearer explanations and perceived their visits to be highly personalized, garnering higher quality diagnoses than higher-risk patients.
'It's impossible to ignore that 36% of the healthcare customers we measure within our research have used telehealth services this year — which is four times higher than a year ago," James Beem, managing director of global healthcare intelligence at J.D. Power, said in a release.
"However, digging deeper into the research, it's clear that customer satisfaction has declined during the same period, with many users citing limited access to the services they need and inconsistencies in the care they receive," he said.