Study Finds that Telehealth Utility Rises for Consumers; Will Continue Post-Pandemic

70% of consumers plan to use telehealth in the next year according to a new study from The Intent Lab, a research partnership between Performics and Northwestern University Medill School

In the pandemic, the abrupt shift to digitalizing everything has increased consumer satisfaction with digital platforms, according to a new study by The Intent Lab, a research partnership between Performics and Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.

The Intent Lab has been tracking consumer satisfaction with digital experiences since Q2 2016, including factors like trust and utility.  While trust has dropped during the pandemic, highlighting a long-term trend in the erosion of consumer confidence in the information they get online, utilityꟷthe usefulness of online experiencesꟷhas powered an overall increase in satisfaction.

Telehealth, in particular, has become useful during COVID, as examined by a new Intent Lab study.  According to the study, 54% of respondents have used telehealth, with 68% of those using it after COVID started.

“Our study found that people are increasingly using telehealth because of its high utility, and they plan to continue to use it even when the pandemic ends. This massive trial of the service could have long-lasting impact on how consumers expect their health-related experiences to evolve to meet increasing demand for convenience,” says Esteban Ribero, Performics SVP of Planning and Insights.

Ashlee Humphreys, Associate Professor, Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, added, “According to the research, people still do not trust telehealth as much as they do an in-person visit.  They have issues with the credibility of the information, the accuracy of diagnosis and the doctor’s ability to analyze a condition or injury through telehealth.  Nevertheless, consumers do find it a lot more convenient and plan to use it for certain conditions or routine tasks, like refilling a prescription.”  

Insights from the Intent Lab study include:

  • Most consumers are using telehealth to access general practitioners (69%) and prescription refills (31%) vs. specialists like mental health professionals (20%), pediatricians (14%), eye exams (14%), urgent care (14%), dermatology (11%) and nutrition counseling (11%) 
  • 70% plan to use telehealth for general practitioner care in the next year, while 69% plan to use it for prescription refills, 51% for mental health counseling, 50% for urgent care, 48% for nutrition counseling, 42% for dermatology, 38% for pediatricians and 37% for eye exams
  • Consumers access telehealth services over video chat (68%) or phone (58%)
  • Zoom is the most common tool, used by 42% of respondents, followed by Teladoc (12%), Zocdoc (7%) and Microsoft Teams (4%) 
  • Not all telehealth providers are the same in terms of trust.  37% of respondents trust independent private practitioners, as compared to hospitals (28% trust), pharmacies (24%) and retail stores (12%)

Ribero added, “Digital satisfaction depends on a number of factors, including convenient, personalized experiences, as well as safe and trusted social interaction.  This Intent Lab study shows that telehealth providers can increase favorability by creating digital spaces that emulate some of the more trusted, in-person interactions.”

Download the full Intent Lab study, Telehealth’s Impact on Healthcare Services, for more insights.

The study was fielded in March 2021 in the U.S. (1000 participants).