Telemedicine on phone Telehealthproviders could boost business in rural areas by raising awarenessof quality care available through the service. (Photo:Shutterstock)

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While telehealth has only been used by 10 percent ofhealth care consumers, it has the highest customer satisfactionlevel with users of any consumer category studied by J.D. Power.And although current use is sparse, it's expected that wideradoption will grow "considerably considerably as health careconsumers continue to use and recommend the service."

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So says the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Telehealth Satisfaction Study, whichfinds not only that satisfaction levels are high but positive wordof mouth is expected to drive broader adoption. People who use itreally like it; the study reports that telehealth's overallcustomer satisfaction score is 851 out of 1,000, and is 900 orhigher among 46 percent of users.

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Related: Why more employees are embracingtelemedicine

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Not only are these scores high, they're "among the highest ofall health care, insurance and financial services industry studiesconducted by J.D. Power"—outpaced only by direct banking customersatisfaction, with an average score of 855.

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The study ranked customer satisfaction with telehealth servicesbased on four factors, in order of importance: customer service (45percent); consultation (28 percent); enrollment (19 percent); andbilling and payment (9 percent).

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While people are happy with their experience, providers have atough time with those who don't know if telehealth available tothem through their health provider or system (37 percent) or thosewho simply don't have access (29 percent).

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Rural areas are the toughest to crack, with only 25 percentself-reporting its availability. According to the report, this isone area in which telehealth providers could boost business byraising awareness of quality care available through theservice.

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Regarding the service itself, the study found that it worked formost users, with more than 84 percent saying that they couldcompletely resolve their medical concern during their visit, with73 percent saying they had no issues or problems during theservice. In addition, 49 percent say there were no barriers to makethe process difficult and 87 percent characterized the enrollmentprocess as somewhat/very easy.

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Timing for telehealth visits averages out at 44 minutes, whichdoesn't please users very much—17 minutes to enroll, 9 minuteswaiting for the practitioner and 18 minutes for the actualconsultation—but providers "compensate for it with the quality andconvenience of care provided."

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.