Telehealth use is surging but patient satisfaction with the service has declined, new study finds

As the use of telehealth has become more widespread, consumer satisfaction has fallen, according to a recent survey. 

J.D. Power conducted a telehealth satisfaction study, looking at factors including customer service, consultation, enrollment and billing among direct-to-consumer and payer-sponsored telehealth services. More than 4,600 consumers who used a telehealth service in the past year, from June 2020 through July 2021, responded.

The study found that despite 36% of patients using telehealth, four times higher than the previous year, they also report limited services and inconsistent care and lower satisfaction than in 2020.

“As the industry grows, it is critical to address these challenges,” said James Beem, managing director of global healthcare intelligence at J.D. Power, in a statement. 

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Services that ranked highest in terms of patient telehealth satisfaction among direct-to-consumer brands are Teladoc, MDLive and MyTelemedicine, respectively. Among payers, UnitedHealthcare ranked highest, followed by Humana and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan tied for second place.

More than half of all customers reported using telehealth because of convenience, nearly half because of swift access to care and more than a third because of safety. The highest usage of telehealth services in the past year was among Generation Y and Pre-Boomers, J.D. Power found.

But patient satisfaction with telehealth services has declined as pain points emerge. Apart from barriers like limited services and inconsistent care, consumers also reported not being aware of costs while using telehealth, confusing technology and a lack of provider details. 

Patients who said they are healthier also reported higher degrees of satisfaction with their care and diagnoses than those who reported having poorer health.

J.D. Power’s study is the latest among others looking into patient satisfaction and the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on telehealth. In general, data has shown consistent similarities, such as increased demand for the services alongside inconsistencies in delivery and spotty access to helpful information.