EXCLUSIVE: YouGov Study Shows Only 1 in 10 Americans Have Used Telemedicine

November 26, 2019

Smartphones have changed so many of our consumer behaviors — dating, eating, getting around — but when it comes to our health and seeing our doctors, there’s still a big gap.

A new YouGov survey conducted exclusively for Cheddar shows that only 12 percent of Americans have used a telemedicine service. About 14 percent overall said they have never heard of telemedicine apps or websites — and that lack of awareness grows to 23 percent among those who say they don’t have health insurance.

Telemedicine is largely described now as technology that enables someone to interact with a medical professional via the web, accessed through a computer or phone. But the concept was introduced in the early 1950s to try to provide healthcare to people living in more remote locations.

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Telemedicine concerns breakdown / YouGov/Cheddar

Globally, telemedicine was a $38 billion market in 2018, according to Global Market Insights. The U.S. market size was about $19 billion, and expected to grow by 237 percent to $64 billion by 2025.

To put these numbers in perspective, drugmaker Merck made $42 billion in revenue in 2018. In 2017, private equity firm KKR bought look-it-up-yourself site WebMD for $2.8 billion.

“Various [global] government initiatives to provide healthcare services to population having limited or no access to healthcare services will drive global market,” the Global Market Insights report reads. “However, lack of awareness regarding the use of telemedicine in developing economies will impede industry expansion. Furthermore, absence of reimbursement for some or all telemedicine services will hinder market growth in the future.”

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Telemedicine trust breakdown / YouGov/Cheddar

YouGov found that at the moment, convenience is cited by more people (53 percent) as a top reason for using telemedicine rather than cost (44 percent), but a breakdown of those who use the service shows that households with more than $80K in annual income are more likely than the total population to have used telemedicine (19 percent vs. 12 percent).

When it comes to perception of care and level of trust in doctors, * A far greater number of people trust an in-person doctor than telemedicine doctor (89 percent vs. 51 percent). * Of those who have used telemedicine — quality of care, misdiagnosis, technological limitation, and data privacy ranked among the top concerns. * However, one-third of users (33 percent) said they think telemedicine typically offers a better quality of care compared to just about one-tenth (9 percent) of the overall surveyed population.

"What we see right now, the data is telling us a story that telemedicine is for busy people. If you look at the folks who have adopted it, the one group that really sticks out to us is parents," said Andrew Greiner, U.S. editor for YouGov, noting that almost a quarter of those with children under the age of 18 have tried the service.

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Telemedicine comfort breakdown / YouGov/Cheddar

YouGov Survey Highlights:

Telemedicine isn’t well-known. But the reasons for using it lean more toward convenience than low cost.

  • Just 12 percent of America has used a telemedicine service for healthcare. More people (14 percent) haven’t even heard of telemedicine.
  • More likely to have used it: Urbanites, Parents, Post Grad Degrees, People Making Over $80K
    • Parents of a child under 18 (23 percent), people who live in the West (17 percent) and people who live in Urban areas (18 percent), and those with an annual household income of $80K+ (19 percent), Hispanics (16 percent) are more likely than total (12 percent) to have used telemedicine
    • About 4 percent of people without insurance have used telehealth.
  • Most of America (64 percent) is comfortable with the concept of telemedicine
    • Comfort levels are highest for general practitioners (55 percent), least among oncologists (21 percent), OB/GYN (21 percent), and orthodontists (25 percent).
  • Most of America (89 percent) trusts an in-person visit more than a telemedicine visit (51 percent)
    • When looking at just those who have used telehealth, 95 percent say they trust in-person doctor visits and 79 percent trust telehealth.
  • The reasons for using telemedicine are about convenience (53 percent) more than cost (44 percent)
  • Top concerns about telehealth among Americans: misdiagnosis (60 percent), quality of care (56 percent), data privacy (42 percent), technological limitations (37 percent)
    • This changes among those who have actually used telehealth: quality of care (74 percent), misdiagnosis (69 percent), technological limitations (34 percent), data privacy (32 percent)