Survey: 44% of Americans have used telehealth during COVID-19 pandemic

The data reveals multitasking during appointments, including checking social media and playing video games.

telehealth survey

Nearly half of Americans (44%) have used telehealth services during the novel coronavirus pandemic, but not all of them are paying full attention — according to a recent survey announced today by DrFirst.

The findings

DrFirst surveyed more than 1,000 American consumers to explore attitudes and behaviors around telehealth and other facets of healthcare and found that 73% of men and 39% of women report multitasking during telehealth visits.

Distractions include:

  • Surfing the web, checking email, texting – 24.5%
  • Watching the news, TV, or movie – 24%
  • Scrolling through social media – 21%
  • Eating a snack or a meal – 21%
  • Playing a video game – 19%
  • Exercising – 18%
  • Smoking a cigarette – 11%
  • Driving a car – 10%
  • Having a “quarantini” cocktail or other alcoholic beverage – 9.4%

The survey also reveals that 60% of patients said they rescheduled or postponed a doctor’s appointment during the pandemic.

Respondents reported using telehealth for annual checkup (38%), mental health therapy (25%) and specialists visits (21%).

Most people use video…

While 84% of respondents report using video during telehealth, its use is influenced by gender and age. Men (89%) more likely to use the video camera than women (77%), and those under age 55 (72%) are more likely to do so than those aged 55 and over (28%). In addition, the most cited reasons for not using video are the inability to get the camera to work (25%) and not having enough Wi-Fi bandwidth for the call (20%).

Video also appears to influence patient behavior, with 29% saying they dressed more “nicely” than for an in-person appointment. Men (43%) are more likely to dress up than women (10%), and overall, 14% of respondents say they wore pajamas.

While Americans are embracing telehealth, they have several suggestions to improve it, including better video clarity (26%), ability to ask doctors questions in advance via text message (25%), ability to self-schedule healthcare visits online or via an app (23%), ability to see their own physician rather than a “random” telehealth doctor (23%), making it easier to use by patients who are not tech-savvy (23%), and prompt arrival of doctor or staff at the appointment time (22%).

On the record

“Video calls are becoming a part of our regular lives as more people are working from home, and people are getting used to multitasking during them,” said Colin Banas, M.D., DrFirst’s chief medical officer. “As tempting as it may be, it’s important for patients to put aside distractions during a telehealth visit so they can fully engage with their healthcare provider.”


A national online survey of 1,002 U.S. consumers, ages 18+, was conducted by Propeller Insights on behalf of DrFirst, between June 16 and June 19, 2020, with a maximum margin of sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points at a 95 percent level of confidence.