The longtime tradition of house calls is back in a big way, and it looks as if it’ll be the norm going forward. But at-home healthcare in the modern era doesn’t likely include a doctor knocking on your door, but rather a connection via a telehealth visit. A recent survey by the research firm Parks Associates finds that over half (55%) of U.S. households with Internet connectivity used telehealth services in 2022. While this is down from 64% in 2021 (when the coronavirus pandemic made telehealth a necessity for many), the number still represents a significant shift away from traditional healthcare methods.
Who uses telehealth services the most? On the patient side: families. According to the Parks Associates research, 74% of U.S. households with children that have the Internet used telehealth services in 2022, compared with 23% of homes without children. The study found that older patients are more likely to opt for local physicians and in-person visits. On the provider side, independent practitioners have seen a declining share of the telehealth market, lacking the infrastructure to provide virtual visits that large healthcare operations possess, which includes HIPAA-compliant services and integration with electronic medical records (EMRs).
And how are people paying for these telehealth services? More than half of the survey’s respondents report that their virtual visits are completely covered by insurance — 53% in 2022. Nearly 20% of those surveyed paid for their telehealth services out of pocket in 2022, while around 27% were covered by insurance, but also required a copay.
The survey’s results track with similar research; the independent nonprofit data firm FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker shows like trend lines in telehealth use, growing 10.2% nationally from April 2022 to May 2022. CVS Health’s 2022 Health Care Insights Study found that 53% of healthcare providers reported that they believe adding telehealth services prompted an increase in patient visits. Nearly half (48%) of the study’s consumer respondents said they would likely seek mental health care if they had the option of a virtual visit, while 37% of the same group say they have turned to telehealth to save time or money. Indeed, the classic house call has gone virtual.