Telemedicine’s Growing Popularity in The New Normal

By: Jackie Lorch
Vice President of Global Knowledge Management

Social, economic and health restrictions and lockdowns have changed so many facets of our daily lives, from how we consume entertainment to where we work and shop. Our Global Consumer Trends COVID-19 Edition: The New Normal explored many of these changes, including the advance of telemedicine into our lives.

Our latest brief, Telemedicine: Here to Stay?, dives deeper into telemedicine’s usage during the pandemic, asking consumers and healthcare professionals about their usage of telemedicine, how effective it’s been and whether they expect it to stick around. The verdict: It likely will.

Behind the survey results are some interesting trends, which offer clues as to why we should expect telemedicine to remain a part of our healthcare lives. Firstly, it’s probably not a surprise to see telemedicine usage spike during the pandemic – many of us live in communities where social lockdowns are in place, keeping us safely in our homes while we ride out the Coronavirus pandemic. But many of us still need to talk with our physicians or healthcare professionals, whether for normal follow-up inquires or maybe Coronavirus-related questions.

More interesting is that many of those – more than eight in 10 – who used telemedicine these last few weeks during the pandemic did so for the first time. The ubiquity of smartphones and video applications (Zoom, Google Meet, FaceTime, etc.) likely helped break down some of the barriers to telemedicine usage, as every generation – from Gen Z to Baby Boomers – exceeded 84% or higher for first-time users. Geographically, all 11 countries came in at 76% or higher for first time usage. And, when asked to compare their experience to an in-person visit, every generational cohort reported a satisfaction level of 53% or higher.

Those levels of first-time usage and satisfaction among consumers present compelling evidence that telemedicine will stay a part of our lives moving forward. For physicians and healthcare professionals, that staying power is likely to be driven by other key factors, such as telemedicine’s inclusion in employer benefit offerings and insurance incentives and reforms for reimbursement. Even the prevalence of phone digital assistants (Siri, Google Assistant, etc.) and home voice and video devices (Alexa, Google Home, Portal, etc.) capable of connecting consumer healthcare inquiries directly to a physician or healthcare professional.

So, the next time you have a doctor’s appointment – during the pandemic, or after – don’t be surprised if you do so over the phone, on your iPad or even using your Alexa.

For more on telemedicine usage in the pandemic, and our changing behaviors in the New Normal, visit our COVID-19 Insights page and download the report available on June 4th.