COVID-19’s impact on telemedicine: Industry trends

Sarang Paramhans Product Marketer

Get Started!

Sign up for a full-featured 30 day free trial. No credit card required.

Free Trial

Leading interaction platform for chat, voice, and video, Sendbird shares data on the meteoric rise in telehealth around the world during the COVID era.

What caused the changes?

Precaution to reduce the spread of the virus

Telemedicine presented an option to treat non-emergent patients from a safe distance to help limit the spread of the virus. It also helped keep emergency rooms free and available for treating COVID cases.

Sweeping legislative changes

Pre-COVID, many laws and regulations slowed telehealth progress. Once COVID hit, significant legislative changes made telemedicine a viable option: HIPAA flexibility to allow for video and chat, medicare waivers and policy changes and extended telehealth capabilities to rural health centers.

Consumer awareness

Many patients weren’t aware that telemedicine existed pre-COVID – and it wasn’t even an option for many. While consumers are still learning about telemedicine, considerable awareness has been raised during the pandemic – helping expedite telemedicine’s rapid growth.

Sendbird’s telehealth clients

Telehealth space

From December 2019 to the end of March 2020, the number of users in the telehealth space increased by 294.7% and the number of users in the telehealth space on the Sendbird platform increased by 82.3%.

A Sendbird customer

One of our clients saw the number of people using in-app live chat to book appointments jump by 6X.

Telehealth before COVID-19


Pre-COVID, the annual telemedicine revenue in the US was around $3 billion. Around 11% of Americans had used telehealth.

Telehealth during COVID-19


Telehealth visits surged by 50% during March 2020. Medicare patients using telemedicine increased from 11,000 weekly visits in March, to 650,000 weekly visits by the end of April.

From March 2, 2020 to April 14, 2020, virtual urgent care visits increased by 683% and nonurgent visits increased by 4,345%. From March 2019 to March 2020, Telemedicine insurance claims rose by 4,347%.

Consumers & providers are responding

Using telehealth

46% of consumers are currently using telehealth in the US, and 76% have expressed interest in doing so in the future. (Up from 11% pre-COVID).


57% of providers are more open to telehealth in a post-COVID world. 64% of providers are more comfortable using telehealth.


Telehealth future predictions

Predicted growth

The telemedicine sector is expected to hit an explosive 80% year-over-year growth by the end of 2020.

If growth continues, telehealth has the potential to overtake $250 billion of current healthcare spending in the US. In other words, a quarter trillion dollars of our current health system could become digital.

The continued growth isn’t guaranteed

Future of telemedicine

Experts and analysts agree that the telemedicine industry seems poised for continued growth post-COVID. But it depends on the following things:

  1. Consumers and practitioners must continue to use telehealth once regular visits can be resumed.
  2. Current legislation changes must stay in place or be adjusted to continue to allow for the growth of the telehealth industry.
  3. Technology and training must keep up with growing demands.

Sendbird offers the leading HIPAA compliant video and chat platform that is quick to implement using our API service. Learn how we can support your organization’s ongoing telehealth communication needs.

*Unless otherwise noted, Sendbird internal data is based on mean differences in customer data between Q4 2019 and Q1 2020

Categories: Insights, COVID-19

Tags: Telehealth