Number of older adults using telehealth increased from 4% to 26% in 2020 

One in four Americans over age 50 participated in a virtual medical visit during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, up from 4 percent of older individuals who had a virtual visit with a physician in 2019, according to an Aug. 17 National Poll on Healthy Aging. 

The National Poll on Healthy Aging was done in 2019 and 2020 for the Ann Arbor-based University of Michigan's Institute of Healthcare Policy and Innovation with support from AARP and Michigan Medicine. Both polls included national samples of more than 2,000 adults aged 50 to 80.

The 2020 poll asked older adults many of the same questions as the poll conducted in 2019, which allowed for comparisons between the two years.

Five insights:

1. Seventeen percent of participants said they still have never used any sort of video conferencing tool for any reason, including medical care. That's 11 percent fewer than participants in the 2019 poll.

2. Sixty-four percent of participants feel very or somewhat comfortable with video conferencing technologies, up from 53 percent in 2019.

3. Sixty-two percent of participants said at least one of their providers offers telehealth visits, compared to 14 percent in 2019.

4. The number of participants with telehealth privacy concerns dropped from 49 percent in 2019 to 24 percent in 2020.

5. Seventy-two percent of participants said they are interested in using telehealth to connect with a provider that they had seen before, up from 58 percent in 2019.

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