Telehealth usage had been steadily growing among hospitals, clinics, patients and doctors even before the new coronavirus outbreak began in December 2019. Once stay-at-home orders were imposed around the world throughout 2020, these underlying telehealth trends have only accelerated.
Hospitals and clinics have adopted new HIPAA-compliant text and video technologies to conduct virtual visits instead of in-person appointments, allowing doctors to see more patients while patients save over an hour and half of their own time per visit.
In this article, we've dug up the most interesting stats for the telehealth industry, which indicate telehealth is an ongoing revolution, not just a pandemic-driven fad.
Top 7 most remarkable statistics of telehealth industry trends
- Medicare primary care visits conducted virtually have increased 350-fold to 43.5% from a pre-pandemic level of just over 0.1% (HHS).
- Nearly 75% of all doctor, urgent care, and ER visits are either unnecessary or could be handled safely and effectively over the phone or video (American Medical Association).
- Up to $250B of U.S. health spending could potentially become virtualized. This takes up roughly 20% of all Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial spend across outpatient clinics, office, and home health—combined (McKinsey).
- 76% of U.S. hospitals already have a telehealth program connecting medical practitioners with patients through video and other technologies (American Hospital Association).
- Nearly 90% of consumers who used telehealth were satisfied with their experience (Healthcare IT News).
- 84% of telehealth visits result in patients’ concerns being fully addressed and resolved (American Well).
- Telehealth usage is high for psychiatry and neurology but remains low for hematology and oncology (HHS).
How much popularity has telehealth gained in 2020 due to COVID-19?
- The number of telehealth visits increased by 50% during Q1 2020 compared to Q1 2019 (CDC).
- Telehealth visits increased by 154% during the last week of March 2020 compared with the same period in 2019 (CDC).
- In 2019, only 11% of U.S. consumers used telehealth technologies (Mobile Health News).
- In 2020, however, at least 76% of U.S. consumers have used (or have expressed a desire to use) telehealth technologies (Mobile Health News).
- Telehealth claims increased 4,347% nationally from March 2019 to March 2020 according to a FAIR Health non-profit study (Healthcare Finance).
- People over the age of 50 are getting more comfortable with telehealth. One in four over 50 had a telehealth visit during the first three months of the pandemic, compared to 4% in 2019 (Healthcare Finance).
- In April of 2020, Forrester estimated that over 1 billion telehealth virtual “visits” would be completed by the end of 2020, with 900 million or more directly tied to the fight against COVID-19 (Forrester).
Telehealth trends in text, voice and video communication
Smartphone technology changing how businesses and consumers interact
- 77% of the United States population owns a smartphone (CTIA).
- 76% of consumers already receive text messages from businesses (ZipWhip).
- As of May 2020, 69% of marketers currently use mobile messaging to reach out to their prospects, leads, and customers—a 31% increase from a year ago. (Salesforce)
- As marketers double down on using customer data for empathetic marketing, they have reported a 186% increase in AI adoption since 2018 (Salesforce).
- 68% of businesses expect advanced mobile messaging apps to play a larger role in consumer marketing within five years (Harvard Business Review).
- 56% of organizations say their mobile messaging apps improve engagement with their customers (Harvard Business Review).
Texting is now the most used communication channel
- 95% of people between 18-29 use text messaging and SMS, whereas only 90% are on social media (Pew Research Center).
- For ages between 30-49, 91% actively use texting, whereas only 82% use social media (Pew Research Center).
- 82% of consumers keep SMS notifications switched on (Pew Research Center).
- 90% of text messages are opened and read within 3 seconds (Adobe).
- Text messages are personal and have a 98% open rate (Adobe).
- SMS and text messages have a 45% response rate, whereas email responses are just at 8% (Business 2 Community).
- CTR of SMS is 36% on average, whereas it’s a mere 6-7% for emails and around 2% for social media (Business 2 Community).
- However, about 61% of marketers still don’t use SMS (G2).
- 65% of brands who use SMS don’t have a formal strategy for bulk messaging (source unknown).
- Top three industries where customers are willing to opt-in to SMS notifications (G2):
- eCommerce (46%)
- Healthcare (43%)
- Banking (41%)
With 43% of healthcare consumers willing to opt in to SMS notifications, therein lies a major opportunity to drive adoption of HIPAA-compliant and SMS-enabled communication platforms between doctors and patients.
Voice is growing fast among local searches
- In 2018, 58% of consumers used voice search to find local businesses, including local clinics and hospitals (Score).
- As of January 2018, the average number of voice searches per month is 1 billion, most of which go through voice-enabled chatbots (Alpine.AI).
Live video app usage is soaring especially in healthcare
- Usage of video conferencing platforms surged during the pandemic. Based on a March 2020 survey by Business Insider Intelligence, the following chart shows which tools are the most popular and will continue to be in 2021 and onwards (eMarketer).
- Based on market share, Zoom is the number one video conferencing platform (Skill Scouter).
- Internet video traffic worldwide will increase by fourfold from 2017 through 2022 (Skill Scouter).
- 83% of large companies are very likely to purchase video collaboration software to use in their regular operations (Skill Scouter).
- 52% of adults would be willing to conduct a post-surgical visit through video (American Well).
- Due to its potential to eliminate the need for certain medications or surgeries, the digital health virtual reality (VR) market is expected to grow to $2.4 billion globally by 2026. VR technology is currently being used to treat anxiety, PTSD, and chronic pain (Research and Markets).
- Finally, 50 million Americans would be willing to switch their family practice provider to get access to a video visit (Healthcare IT News).
- Adoption challenges remain, though—the Deloitte 2018 Surveys of U.S. Health Care Consumers and Physicians found that while 90% of physicians view “virtual care” positively, only 14% have video visit capabilities today.
One factor that may be limiting the uptake of virtual visits over text and video are HIPAA compliance requirements. However, there are HIPAA-compliant secure messaging and video platforms available and prepared to meet the needs of both doctors and patients using telehealth.
What does the future hold for telehealth?
Telehealth is an ongoing evolution, not just a pandemic-driven fad
- The telehealth industry is to be worth $155.1 Billion by 2027 with an annual growth rate of 15.1% (Grand View Research).
- The percentage of people aged 65 and over is expected to double by 2050 (Deloitte).
Since these are the same people that are now comfortable with using text, video, and voice communications for virtual health visits today, these age groups will drive more demand for telehealth services with each passing year.
More insurers and doctors are embracing telemedicine
- Based on an April 2020 IQVIA survey of 300 practitioners including oncologists, specialists, and primary care physicians, only 9% of their patient interactions were virtual before the pandemic. This increased to 51% during the pandemic (HHS).
- Although telehealth usage is expected to level off somewhat, it is projected to remain elevated at around 21% after the pandemic ends (HHS).
- 40 states and Washington DC now have laws mandating that private insurers cover telemedicine services in the same manner that they cover in-person services (CCHPCA).
- Physician use of telemedicine services jumped 340% between 2015 and 2018, according to a 2019 American Well survey.
Patients love telemedicine for its convenience and ease of use
- 83% of patients expect to use telemedicine after the pandemic resolves (Medical Economics).
- 62% of consumers would prefer a virtual visit for their regular mental health visits, even after it is safe to visit a doctor’s office in person (Amwell).
- Telemedicine saves patients over 100 minutes of their time compared to an in-person visit (Medical Economics).
- According to a Medical Economics survey among patients on why they would use telehealth, convenience is the biggest theme:
How will patients use telehealth?
Will patients use telehealth to see a new doctor, manage their prescriptions, and follow wellness regimens?
- More than 50% would use telemedicine to see a new doctor (Medical Economics).
- 75% would use it to see a physician with whom they have a relationship (Medical Economics).
- 93% would use telemedicine to manage prescriptions (Medical Economics).
- 91% say that telemedicine would help them stick to appointments, refill their prescriptions, and follow wellness regimens (Medical Economics).
- However, around 40% would want either a referral or to read great reviews about a physician before they’d consider seeking virtual care with someone new (Medical Economics).
With telehealth already trending since 2015, the use of virtual visits exponentially increased throughout the early months of 2020. While telehealth usage has leveled off somewhat in the latter half of the year, the underlying telehealth industry trends are here to stay for 2021 and well beyond.
Both doctors and patients have become accustomed to using text and video chat technologies for their appointments, and not just because of the pandemic. Much of what’s driving these increasing usage trends include demographics, technological advances, and the time-saving convenience of virtual visits as opposed to in-person appointments.
Most people under the age of 50 are already comfortable with virtual visits as long as the text, voice, and video communication technologies used are HIPAA-compliant. In the future, they will be using healthcare services more often as they age and much of that will be virtual.
To learn more about CometChat, a HIPAA-compliant solution for connecting doctors with patients, connect with a member of our team today.
You might also enjoy our article What You Need to Know About HIPAA Compliance in 2021.
About the author
Nabeel Keblawi, a deaf entrepreneur, runs a Content Marketing and SEO agency that helps B2B SaaS companies grow organically in their industries around the world. His previous work experience involved software development, renewable energy, and cloud computing. In his personal life, Nabeel loves to go hiking with his family, and dust off his skis to hit the slopes given the chance. He is also an avid reader of fictional history.