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Why We’re Seeing a Rise in Telemedicine: The Health Care System is Failing Us

Medically reviewed on June 12, 2023 by Morgan Spicer, Medical Communications Manager. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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In recent years, more and more Americans are becoming discouraged by the healthcare system. Additionally, more options for telehealth or virtual care visits are being offered by hospitals, primary care providers, and independent health companies. Let’s break down the issues we’re seeing with the healthcare system and what the rise in telemedicine might mean for the future of healthcare.

Problems with the Health Care System

There are many issues within the healthcare system right now, including long wait times, difficulty making appointments, cost of care, and more. A recent study by the American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA) and The Harris Poll gained valuable insights from Americans on the state of the current healthcare system. A quick summary of this study shows that because of high costs, social determinants of health, and difficulty navigating the healthcare system, people are losing hope and seeking out care less frequently. [1] This is a concern for many reasons, mainly because a lack of early, preventive care can significantly increase the risk of numerous illnesses and conditions. [2] Let’s take a closer look at some of the problems plaguing the healthcare system.

Confusing Systems

Many Americans report having difficulty navigating the healthcare system. Coordinating health insurance, different care providers, and even making appointments can be difficult to understand. Additionally, a large percentage of people don’t feel equipped to find in-network providers or providers that can give them the care they need. [1] The general consensus is that health outcomes would likely improve if healthcare providers had the time to help patients decipher and navigate the healthcare system.

Workforce Shortages

Not only is it difficult to find a provider that can give you the care you’re looking for at an affordable price point, but there is an obvious workforce shortage happening in the healthcare system. The AAPA survey tells us that over one-third of adults in the United States have noticed or been impacted by healthcare staffing shortages. [1] Healthcare workers are stretched thin and facing burnout, which was worsened immensely by the COVID-19 pandemic. [1] These holes in staffing, from techs to nurses to surgeons, are bleeding into patient care. As a result, patients are facing increased wait times, poor quality care, and difficulty getting appointments in a short time frame. [1]

Social Barriers

The social determinants of health (SDOH) involve housing, transportation, discrimination, job opportunities, environment, language, and others. [3] The World Health Organization has stated that the SDOH can influence as much as 55% of health outcomes. [4] Not only do these factors contribute to individual healthcare, but they impact the livelihood and well-being of entire communities. For example, telling a patient to eat healthy foods when they are living in a food desert will do little to no good. Similarly, offering healthcare services in one language or sending someone home with wordy and confusing information or instructions is setting anyone with a language or literacy barrier up for failure. Some people may have difficulty getting care due to their working hours, need for child care, or fear of stigma and discrimination. Research suggests that people of color are significantly more likely (75%) to experience poor quality healthcare as a result of their race, compared to white patients (35%). [1] Health inequities need to be addressed immediately to allow everyone fair access and quality care. [3]

Expensive Care

Healthcare in the United States is extremely expensive. Even with health insurance, many Americans have difficulty affording care. 40% of AAPA survey respondents admitted that they will skip or delay getting care for years because they are worried about the cost of services. [1] While this may save someone money in the short term, managing chronic diseases or illnesses that could’ve been prevented with early care and detection can end up being a much higher cost. [5]

Monthly costs for insurance plans can range from $300 to upwards of $1,000 a month. [6] Even with insurance, there are added costs you may be responsible for, such as co-pays, prescription costs, etc. If someone doesn’t have insurance, which is approximately 30 million people in the United States, they could be paying much more for basic services. [7]

Survey Says

To sum up these findings, people feel that the healthcare system is not meeting their needs because [1]:

  • It takes too long to get an appointment (31%)
  • The strain of healthcare costs on finances (26%)
  • Limitations of insurance (23%)
  • The outsized focus on treating illness and injury over proactive preventative care and wellness (19%)
  • Quality of care is not good (14%)
  • There aren’t enough providers in the community (13%)
  • It is difficult to navigate care (13%)

How Telemedicine Can Help

So where does telemedicine fit in? Telehealth certainly isn’t the answer to all of the problems plaguing healthcare, but it can provide some benefits that in-person healthcare cannot.

What is Virtual Care?

Virtual healthcare, virtual care, telemedicine, and telehealth are all different names to describe the same basic service: healthcare from the comfort of your own home, car, work, or wherever you are. Telehealth matches healthcare providers with patients virtually so that you can get your questions answered and symptoms addressed without having to visit a provider in person. A global survey found that over 70% of people would be comfortable communicating remotely with their doctor rather than through an in-person visit. [8] Virtual healthcare comes in many forms, including video calls, phone calls, online chatting platforms, and more.

Everlywell VCV offering

Insurance and Telehealth

Cost is a big issue for many when it comes to healthcare. While there’s no guarantee that all health plans will cover virtual services, there are quite a few plans that do include telehealth coverage. [9] Terms and prices will vary depending on your plan, the service being provided, etc. Even if the virtual service you’re utilizing doesn’t match up with your insurance, you may be able to use HSA/FSH benefits to cover eligible expenses. A small plus for telehealth visits is that you don’t have to pay for public transportation, gas, or rideshare. Read more about the cost of telehealth →

Another potential benefit of telemedicine is easier navigation and care coordination. Some virtual services, such as Everlywell Weight Care+ come with an expert team of clinicians that can help you navigate your health insurance and care plan.

Convenient Healthcare

Telehealth is also preferred by many people because it can be much more convenient. [8] You can forget about travel time, parking, child care, or even taking time off of work. Instead of sitting in a waiting room, you can be sitting on your couch or in bed. There is also limited exposure to the people seeking care for a cold, flu, or other contagious illness. [9]


While telehealth isn’t a perfect solution for everybody, there are some social determinants of health that virtual care has the potential to address. A Pew research study found that 18% of Americans live over 10 miles from their nearest hospital or doctor’s office. [10] Not to mention that specialists may be even harder to come by. Telehealth makes it a little easier to connect with a provider that specializes in what you need or be picky with the provider you’re meeting with. Many online services can set you up with a provider in as little as a few hours. Want someone of a similar age, ethnicity, gender, or race? You may have more options when you don’t have to travel to find healthcare. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone has access to reliable internet or a device to connect with a provider.

The Future of Healthcare

When looking ahead two things are very clear: there is a lot of room for improvement in the current healthcare system, and telemedicine is here to stay. [9] Healthcare needs and barriers look different for everyone, but with more providers being available online and a better understanding of the issues that patients are facing, there is hope for improved services in the future. If you are interested in learning more about telehealth options you can read more on the Everlywell Blog, or schedule a virtual care appointment today!

What is telehealth?

When to use telehealth: a guide

How does telehealth work?


  1. The Patient Experience: Perspectives on Today's Healthcare. AAPA, The Harris Poll. 2023. URL.
  2. Learn the importance of preventive health. June 16 2022. URL.
  3. Social Determinants of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. URL. Accessed June 8 2023.
  4. Social Determinants of Health. WHO. URL. Accessed June 8 2023.
  5. Health and Economic Costs of Chronic Diseases. CDC. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. March 23 2023. URL.
  6. Masterson, L, Megna, M. How Much Does Health Insurance Cost In 2023? Forbes. May 8 2023. URL.
  7. Cha A, Cohen, R. Demographic Variation in Health Insurance Coverage: United States, 2020. National Health Statistics Reports. Number 169. February 11 2022.
  8. Cisco Study Reveals 74 Percent of Consumers Open to Virtual Doctor Visit. Newsroom. March 4 2013. URL.
  9. Shaver J. The State of Telehealth Before and After the COVID-19 Pandemic. Prim Care. 2022;49(4):517-530. doi:10.1016/j.pop.2022.04.002
  10. Lam, O, Broderick, B, Toor, S. How far Americans live from the closest hospital differs by community type. Pew Research Center. December 12 2018. URL.
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