Patients like telehealth, but barriers persist

October 5, 2020

The J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Telehealth Satisfaction Study takes the temperature of patients’ feelings about the new normal.

Patients are seeing telehealth as a bright spot in the nation’s response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

According to a news release on the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Telehealth Satisfaction Study, on a 1,000 point scale patients scored telehealth services at 860. This is among the highest of all healthcare, insurance, and financial services industry studies produced by J.D. Power.

The study found that 52 percent of telehealth users report they’ve encountered at least on barrier to telehealth. The most common are limited services with 24 percent, technology requirements with 17 percent, and a lack of awareness about the cost with 15 percent. A further 35 percent of telehealth users report they’ve experienced a problem during a visit and 26 percent reported tech audio issues, the release says.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a moment of truth for telehealth, and, by most accounts, the technology is rising to the challenge and delivering a high degree of satisfaction among those who use it,” James Beem, managing director of global healthcare intelligence at J.D. Power, says in the release. “However, even though the public awareness with Telehealth is higher due to the influence of COVID-19, the barriers for the consumer to engage with the technology has been a consistent theme in our research.”

Patients who are at-risk gave an overall satisfaction score 117 points lower than the scores of those patients who consider themselves to be in excellent health. Healthier patients were also more likely to understand any information provided during the visit, to receive clear explanations, to feel that their visits are highly personalized, and obtained a high quality diagnosis, the release says.

Of the respondents, 46 percent say their top reason for choosing telehealth was safety compared with only 13 percent who reported the same in 2019.

Amwell ranked the highest in satisfaction among direct-to-consumer telehealth providers with a score of 885, while Doctors on Demand came in second with a score of 879. Cigna meanwhile ranked highest among health insurers who provided telehealth services with a score of 867, while Kaiser Foundation Health Plan came in second with 867, the release says.