Telemedicine and telehealth-related activities are on the rise, according to NTIA’s November 2019 Internet Use Survey, which found that more households are using the Internet to communicate with health professionals, access health records, and research health information.
Because the survey was conducted prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, it provides an important baseline for understanding the prevalence of telehealth usage among American households and the importance of Internet access for essential services.
The proportion of households that accessed health or health insurance records online grew from 30 percent in 2017 to 34 percent in 2019 (see Figure 1). Households communicating with a doctor or other health professional online grew by two percentage points, and households that researched health information online grew by one percentage point between 2017 and 2019.
Our data reveal that telehealth and telemedicine users tend to have higher incomes, more education, and live in metropolitan areas. An Internet-using household in which the reference person lacked a high school diploma was half as likely as one with some college experience to research health information, such as with WebMD or similar services. The reference person is the first individual in each household who is identified as owning or renting the housing unit.