CDC Report Finds U.S. Adults Continued To Use Telehealth In 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered that several demographics, mostly adults, maintained substantial levels of involvement in telehealth after evaluating telehealth use statistics from 2021. Early on in the COVID-19 crisis, hospitalizations, fatalities, and growing infections made it difficult for patients and health providers to meet face-to-face. Healthcare stakeholders embraced telehealth as an alternative solution to keep provider-patient contact accessible and enable patients to keep receiving care. Patients and healthcare professionals alike noted the advantages of virtual care during the pandemic, including greater accessibility, convenience, and reduced COVID-19 exposure. However, telehealth use patterns have shifted along with the pandemic.

In the CDC’s analysis, the percentage of persons who utilized telehealth in the previous 12 months is broken down by sociodemographic and geographic factors using data from the 2021 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). The NHIS was chosen due to its large sample size and the accessibility of  demographic, geographic, and other health measures. Traditionally, interviews are performed in respondents’ homes. However, interviewing processes were hampered by the COVID-19 crisis, and in 2021, 62.8% of the Sample Adult interviews were performed at least partially over the phone. 

According to the study, 37.0% of individuals utilized telehealth in 2021. Sex, age, ethnicity, and Hispanic origin, family income, level of education, location, and urbanity all showed differences in telehealth use. In comparison to males, females were more likely to have utilized telehealth. Adults who are non-Hispanic White and are non-Hispanic Alaska native are more inclined to use telehealth than adult non-Hispanic Black, adult non-Hispanic Asian, and adult non-Hispanic Alaska native. The Northeast and West areas had the greatest rates of telehealth use. The results of which were 40 percent and 42.4 percent of adults respectively. 

Additionally, usage rose with age, educational attainment, and family incomes at or above 200 percent of the federal property level. 28.7% of telehealth users did not have a high school GED, while 43.2% had a college degree or above. 33.1 percent of individuals who utilized telehealth had household incomes below the federal poverty line. Contrarily, 40.7% of those whose family income was 400% or above than the federal poverty line used telehealth. Furthermore, major metropolitan regions saw the highest rate of telehealth utilization, which fell as urbanization decreased.