- Telemedicine adoption climbed among a U.S. Census-match sample of adults, with eight out of 10 respondents reporting that they have used telemedicine during their lifetime, according to a new survey by investment and consulting firm Rock Health released last week.
- Adults 55 and over reported the largest year-over-year increase with a boost of telemedicine adoption by 12% to 76%.
- Audio-only and asynchronous telemedicine, which include live phone calls, emails and text messages, were more popular than video chats, the survey found.
The Rock Health 2022 Consumer Health Adoption Survey shows that telemedicine is growing in popularity for many Americans as providers aim to address clinician shortages, improve appointment efficiency and reach more patients.
The survey of 8,014 adults also shows what telemedicine use might look like when COVID-19 moves into its endemic phase. Regarding telemedicine, the researchers said, “the new-car mystique of virtual experiences may seem like ol’ reliable.”
Older Americans weren’t the only demographic group to show an increase in telemedicine use. In 2022, 73% of rural respondents said they have used telemedicine, a 13% increase from 2021. Meanwhile, 50% of uninsured respondents said in 2022 they had used telemedicine, a 13% jump from 2021.
Use of wearable devices climbed among respondents with 62% of respondents with “excellent” health owning a wearable compared with 23% of respondents with “very poor” health.
Key uses for telemedicine included prescription refills and care for minor ailments. Of the respondents, 61% favored telemedicine for prescription refills and 51% preferred the technology for minor illness care. Given these preferences, Amazon’s new $5-per-month RxPass subscription service could disrupt the consumer health market, the Rock Health researchers suggested.
Although live video comes to mind when thinking of telemedicine, non-video encounters proved popular for prescription refills, and requirements for compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act being reinstated could also lead to more non-video telemedicine use, according to the report.
“Multiple factors contribute to non-video telemedicine use, including the continued lag in national broadband coverage,” the researchers wrote. “Another likely contributor is the growing supply of non-video appointment offerings, bolstered by provider organizations.”
Of the 20% of respondents showing a preference for in-person visits, 44% said they simply desire to address health matters in person. Many consumers also distrust health data sharing and prefer to confide in their providers for health information instead. In 2022, 77% of respondents trusted doctors/clinicians compared with 28% of digital health apps, 16% for websites and 11% for social media groups.
With a slowdown in digital health funding and “exceptional regulatory circumstances,” digital health will require more support to reach additional heights, the report suggested.