When COVID-19 burst onto the global scene in the winter of 2020, it sparked new life in the world of telemedicine. Now, almost two years into the pandemic, are virtual appointments still going strong?
At first glance, it’s clear that an increasing number of U.S. adults have turned to telemedicine. In 2020, only 29% of U.S. adults had given it a try, while in 2021 that number rose to 43%. As of this year, the percentage of those who have tried telemedicine has surpassed those who are not interested–suggesting that adoption of this form of appointment could soon plateau.
Of course, trying an experience and enjoying it are two different things. While experience with telemedicine has increased, so have levels of dissatisfaction, with 40% of respondents disliking this option, up from 32% in 2020.
Men and older adults are less enthusiastic about telemedicine, while women have the most experience and adults under the age of 35 have the most intent.
Examining income highlights that lower income adults, as well as those who are financially worse-off as a result of the pandemic, have the least experience with telemedicine services. Those better off than they were before the pandemic are the most likely telemedicine adopters by a long shot.
Location may also play a role in this conversation. Despite the fact that virtual appointments could be more convenient for those who don’t live close to their physicians, those in rural areas and the midwest are the least likely to have experience with remote healthcare consultations. This could be due to accessibility either through a physician offering it as an option, or even access to a reliable internet connection.
Regardless of physical location, those who are the least concerned about the COVID-19 Omicron variant are also the least interested in telemedicine.
And while those who are not working and not getting paid are the least likely to have used telemedicine, those who are working as usual (not remotely) are the second-least likely to have an interest in this option. In a similar vein, it’s also worth noting that those who work remotely may be more interested in transitioning everything remotely–including visits to the doctor.
All of this suggests that adoption of telemedicine is driven by those with more access to the service, be it financial or area of residence. There is also a certain amount of COVID comfort at play, with those who are ready to return to “normal” less interested in virtual health consultations. Ultimately, with adoption of telemedicine potentially reaching a plateau, only time will tell how this will continue to evolve among consumers.