Surveys Gauge Older Adults’ Interest in Telehealth

CAST | July 18, 2022

LeadingAge CAST offers a telehealth and RPM webinar on July 21st.

As the pandemic moves into a new phase, two surveys assess older adults’ opinions on continuing telehealth, with conflicting results.

Waning Interest in Telehealth

For “Americans’ Readiness to Emerge from the Pandemic and Changes to Daily Life,” the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and The SCAN Foundation interviewed just over 1,000 adults of various ages in May 2022.
Most older adults polled do not plan to continue using virtual medical services; only 16% said they were. However, the concept of telehealth enjoyed broader support, with 49% of older adults saying that more healthcare provided by telehealth would be a good thing.

Strong Interest in Telehealth

Yet a February 2022 study from AARP found a more favorable view toward telehealth. "An Updated Look at Telehealth Use among U.S. Adults 50-Plus" found that approximately "one-third (32%) of U.S. adults age 50-plus report being extremely or very interested in using telehealth services for themselves or for a loved one, a figure that is essentially unchanged since April 2020 (30%) when we last asked about telehealth use."
The report also presented these findings:

  • One-third of adults aged 50-plus say they are extremely or very likely to use telehealth services in the future for at least some medical appointments.
  • However, adults aged 65 and older are more likely than their younger counterparts to say they are not very likely to use telehealth services in the future (29% vs. 22%).
  • Expected likelihood to use telehealth services in the future for at least some medical appointments varies by race/ethnicity. Black, non-Hispanic adults aged 50-plus are more likely than their White, non-Hispanic or Hispanic counterparts to report it extremely likely that they will use telehealth services in the future (27% vs. 14% and 9%). Hispanic adults aged 50-plus are also more likely than White, non-Hispanics to say they are very likely to use such services in the future (27% vs. 14%).

Resuming Activities and COVID Precautions

Americans’ Readiness to Emerge from the Pandemic and Changes to Daily Life” also found that older adults’ worries of COVID infection have lessened. These attitudes could make the older adults polled more open to going to a healthcare provider’s office.
“While COVID-19 continues to pose a greater threat to the health of older adults, those age 18-49 and those age 50 and older show similarly low levels of concern about being infected with the virus,” said the survey report. “Those age 50 and older are just as likely as younger adults to report that their lives are the same as before the pandemic, and that they have resumed many of their routine activities like visiting with friends and family, traveling, and going out to bars or restaurants.”
Adults aged 50 and older are more likely to consider the following factors important or essential to returning to public life:

  • Effective treatments are available (88%)
  • Among parents, your children have been vaccinated against COVID-19 (87%)
  • You received a COVID-19 vaccine (80%)
  • Nearly all people have received a COVID-19 vaccine (76%)
  • You have received a COVID-19 booster shot (75%)
  • Most people get COVID-19 booster shots when recommended (75%)

 The 50+ age group was less concerned about masking and testing, with only 59% saying "most people regularly wear face masks in public indoor places" and "most people are regularly tested for COVID-19" are important.

LeadingAge CAST Telehealth Resources

Interested in implementing telehealth at your organization?
Register for the Telehealth in Practice: Driving Efficiencies & Improving Outcomes Webinar, featuring two provider use cases. The LeadingAge Learning Hub will present the webinar on Thursday, July 21, 2022, from 2-3:30 p.m. ET.
Be sure to also review the LeadingAge CAST Telehealth and RPM Selection Tool to help choose the best solution for your organization.