Bridging the Generational Gap in Telehealth Satisfaction

Generation Gap in Telehealth: How Satisfaction Differs Across Age Groups

Telehealth has evolved from being a lifeline during the pandemic to becoming a convenient option for routine follow-ups, treatment of minor illnesses, and mental health services. However, an apparent generation gap has emerged, with millennials driving high satisfaction levels while baby boomers and older patients experience lower levels of satisfaction, according to the 2023 U.S. Telehealth Satisfaction Study by J.D. Power.

The study reveals a clear trend toward telehealth adoption for routine care and ongoing mental health visits, with satisfaction generally higher when using mobile apps. Nevertheless, certain populations, particularly older Americans, face barriers to adoption, such as difficulties with digital channels, access issues, and ease of use.

Overall patient satisfaction with telehealth stands at 698 on a 1,000-point scale. Satisfaction scores are notably higher at 714 for members of Gen Y and Gen Z but significantly lower at 671 for boomers and pre-boomers.

The most substantial satisfaction gap is observed in digital channels and appointment scheduling, suggesting that older telehealth users encounter challenges when using the digital interfaces provided by telehealth platforms. Trust also emerges as an issue, with satisfaction highest in areas related to the healthcare provider (e.g., doctor, nurse) and whether the visit meets the patient’s needs. However, overall trust levels are significantly lower.

Patients primarily opt for telehealth over in-person visits due to convenience (28%) and the ability to receive care quickly (17%). To improve the telehealth experience, providers must focus on making the technology more accessible and user-friendly. The survey reveals that telehealth satisfaction increases by 172 points when patients find digital channels “very easy” to use compared to when they consider them “not very easy.”

In terms of satisfaction among direct-to-consumer brands, CVS leads the way with a score of 744, followed by MDLIVE at 741 and Amwell at 739. Among payers of health plan-provided telehealth services, United Healthcare ranks highest with a score of 702, while Kaiser Foundation Health Plan is second at 701, and Humana is third at 695.

The study gathered responses from 5,424 healthcare customers who had used telehealth services in the past 12 months. It was conducted in June and July of this year.

Looking at the larger trend, in October 2022, after three months of relative stability, national telehealth utilization declined by 3.7%. Telehealth accounted for 5.2% of medical claim lines in October, down from 5.4% in September, as reported by FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker. Notably, the South, Midwest, and West experienced larger declines in telehealth utilization, while the Northeast saw a slight increase of 1.7%.

These findings reflect the utilization patterns of the privately insured population, including Medicare Advantage, while excluding fee-for-service Medicare and Medicaid.