Most telehealth consumers prefer virtual appointments to in-person visits for certain routine care, survey finds

Most telehealth consumers prefer virtual care over in-person visits for several forms of routine care, a new survey by J.D. Power has found. 

The survey, in its fourth iteration, reached more than 4,300 consumers who used telehealth services in the last 12 months and was conducted from June to July of this year. It found that 67% of respondents accessed video telehealth services in the past year, up from 37% in 2019. And nearly all respondents who received medical services via telehealth say they would do so again in the future. 

Among the routine care most respondents prefer via telehealth, 8 out of 10 consumers cited prescription refills. Consumers also cited other routine visits such as reviewing medication options (72%) and discussing test results (71%). More than half also prefer it for regular mental health visits. 

Consumers cited convenience, the ability to receive care quickly and the ease of access to health information as top reasons for using telehealth.

“Telehealth and digital technologies are transforming how patients seek and receive healthcare,” Christopher Lis, managing director of global healthcare intelligence at J.D. Power, said in a summary of the survey’s findings. While telehealth has a lot of potential, including the ability to expand access to care and improve outcomes, Lis continued, as it expands “it will be important to keep evaluating what’s working well and which areas need improvement, with the aim being to improve equitable access, quality of care and patient outcomes that complement in-person care.”

The study also measured consumer satisfaction based on customer service, consultation, enrollment and billing and payment. The highest-ranking provider for satisfaction among direct-to-consumer companies is LiveHealth Online, the study found, followed by Doctor on Demand and eVisit. Among payers of health plan-provided telehealth services, Humana ranks highest, followed by Aetna.

Patient satisfaction mostly depends on providers spending enough time to provide quality care and explaining things thoroughly, as well as resolving medical concerns on the first visit, the study found.