Younger folks may like online healthcare services, but older adults aren’t as enthusiastic about the offering. Only 7.5% of people between the ages of 50 and 80 have used a direct-to-consumer healthcare service like Amazon Clinic, according to findings from the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging.

Online-only healthcare services (such as BetterHelp, Rosy, Lemonaid, and Hims & Hers) don’t require a referral or health insurance, though they can prescribe medicines. They tend to offer a flat fee for services. People ages 50 to 64 were more than twice as likely as adults over 65 to have used one of these online health services. Still, only 10% of people in the first age bracket used them compared to 4% in the second age bracket.

Data showed that 47% of people older than 65 said they’d never heard of online healthcare companies. Still, nearly a third of older adults said they’d be interested in using such services in the future; 42% of people ages 50 to 64 said the same.

Mark Fendrick, MD, a primary care doctor at the University of Michigan, thinks more older adults will want to use the services over time. 

“Patients will increasingly seek care online because of the convenience it can provide, especially for those willing to pay the cost out of pocket,” Fendrick said.

“Its use will likely be boosted by the rapidly increasing number of online vendors and the national shortage of primary care clinicians,” Fendrick added in a university news release. “The recent launch of a telemedicine platform offering home delivery for the new highly popular weight-loss drugs is a noteworthy example of this trend.”

Online healthcare sites gained traction during the pandemic, as people utilized telehealth more. In fact, 58% of people surveyed who had used an online health service started doing so in 2020, 2021 or 2022. Most older adults who had used an online health service said they did so because it was convenient. 

Though the sites offer prescriptions, they were mostly for one-time treatments. More than 60% of people surveyed used the sites for prescriptions. However, only a third of the people who received online prescriptions told their regular doctor about taking the medicines.