A Year in Hybrid Care

Zocdoc Data Shows How Americans’ Healthcare Appointment Booking Trends Evolved Since The Early Days Of The COVID-19 Pandemic

“A Year in Hybrid Care” is a comprehensive data analysis of healthcare appointment booking trends from May 2020, the first full month Zocdoc facilitated video visit bookings, through May 2021.

The data shows how Zocdoc users’ appointment booking behavior changed as the COVID-19 pandemic evolved, beginning with an unprecedented shift toward virtual care in early 2020. Now, more than 170 million Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and people are beginning to resume many of their pre-pandemic activities, including returning to doctors’ offices.

To uncover insights regarding how users’ booking choices evolved throughout the pandemic, Zocdoc analyzed aggregated appointment booking data over the last year and uncovered three key trends:

  • The future of healthcare is primarily in-person. Across the U.S., 33% of appointments booked via Zocdoc in May 2020 were telehealth visits. One year later, in May 2021, that number had declined to 14%.
  • Mental health is the exception to the in-person trend. Mental health is the only specialty in which virtual care bookings remain higher than peak pandemic booking levels. In May 2020, 75% of bookings with psychiatrists and 80% of bookings with psychologists were virtual. In May 2021, 85% of bookings with psychiatrists and 87% of bookings with psychologists were conducted via video.
  • A provider’s proximity matters, even for virtual visits. When Zocdoc patients had a choice between booking a telehealth appointment with a doctor close by or a doctor far away, 70% chose the nearby doctor when booking virtual visits. This implies that patients intuitively know they may eventually want or need care in person, and that choosing a local provider makes it possible to pick up the conversation in-person right where it left off online.

Overall Percentage of Telehealth and In-Person Bookings

Telehealth / In-Person

  • May 2020: 33% / 67%
  • June 2020: 23% / 77%
  • July 2020: 21% / 79%
  • August 2020: 19% / 81%
  • September 2020: 18% / 82%
  • October 2020: 18% / 82%
  • November 2020: 17% / 83%
  • December 2020: 18% / 82%
  • January 2021: 15% / 85%
  • February 2021: 18% / 82%
  • March 2021: 13% / 87%
  • April 2021: 12% / 88%
  • May 2021: 14% / 86%

National

In addition to a high-level analysis of appointment booking trends, Zocdoc took a deep dive into market and specialty specifics, and rebooking preferences. With few exceptions, there was a significant shift back to in-person care across specialties nationwide.

Percentage of In-Person Appointments in May 2020 versus May 2021

  • Primary Care Physician: 58% → 87%
  • OB-GYN: 85% → 97%
  • Dermatologist: 62% → 91%
  • Dentist: 96% → 99%
  • Optometrist: 92% → 100%
  • Orthopedic Surgeon: 77% → 96%
  • Podiatrist: 82% → 96%
  • Chiropractor: 98% → 100%
  • ENT: 64% → 95%
  • Psychiatrist: 25% → 15%
  • Ophthalmologist: 89% → 97%
  • Gastroenterologist: 60% → 79%
  • Urologist: 74% → 94%
  • Pediatrician: 75% → 89%
  • Allergist: 64% → 91%
  • Cardiologist: 75% → 92%
  • Neurologist: 52% → 86%
  • Psychologist 20% → 13%

Offline-Online Continuity of Care

When looking at patients who booked a virtual visit with a new provider and then rebooked an in-person appointment at the same practice, there were three distinct groups of specialties with similar patterns of offline-online continuity of care:

  • High likelihood of in-person rebooking: ENTs, podiatrists, OB-GYNs, and orthopedic surgeons. 50–60% of people who booked a virtual visit with a new provider in these specialties booked a second, in-person appointment, with that same practice.
  • Medium likelihood of in-person rebooking: Dermatologists, Gastroenterologists, Primary Care Physicians, and the average of all specialties excluding mental health. 20–30% of people who booked a virtual visit with a new provider in these specialties booked a second, in-person appointment, with that same practice.
  • Lower likelihood of in-person rebooking: Mental Health. Just ~5% of people who booked a virtual visit with a new mental health provider booked a second, in-person appointment with that same practice.

We also took a look at patients who booked a virtual visit with a new provider and then rebooked a virtual visit at the same practice, and found three distinct groups of specialties with similar patterns of offline-online continuity of care:

  • High likelihood of virtual rebooking: Mental health. More than 95% of people who booked a virtual visit with a mental health provider booked a second, virtual appointment with that same practice.
  • Medium likelihood of virtual rebooking: Dermatologists, Gastroenterologists, Neurologists, Primary Care Physicians, and the average of all specialties excluding mental health. More than 65% of people who booked a virtual visit with a new provider in these specialties booked a second, virtual appointment, with that same practice.
  • Lower likelihood of virtual rebooking: ENTs and OB-GYNs. More than 40% of people who booked a virtual visit with a new provider in these specialties booked a second, virtual appointment with that same practice.

Select States

The shift from telehealth back to in-person care, with the exception of mental health, was more pronounced in some states than others. Below is a snapshot of in-person appointment bookings in May 2020 and May 2021 in Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas.

Florida: Percent of In-Person Appointments in May 2020 versus May 2021

Overall: 74% → 81%

By Specialty:

  • Primary Care Physician: 70% → 80%
  • OB-GYN: 86% → 97%
  • Dermatologist: 76% → 91%
  • Dentist: 97% → 99%
  • Optometrist: 97% → 100%
  • Orthopedic Surgeon: 88% → 94%
  • Podiatrist: 86% → 95%
  • Chiropractor: 96% → 98%
  • ENT: 82% → 98%
  • Psychiatrist: 34% → 7%
  • Ophthalmologist: 95% → 99%
  • Gastroenterologist: 100% → 97%
  • Urologist: 98% → 100%
  • Pediatrician: 95% → 92%
  • Allergist: 95% → 100%
  • Cardiologist: 78% → 99%
  • Neurologist: 44% → 64%
  • Psychologist: 31% → 1%

Illinois: Percent of In-Person Appointments in May 2020 versus May 2021

Overall: 69% → 91%

By Specialty:

  • Primary Care Physician: 49% → 96%
  • OB-GYN: 91% → 99%
  • Dermatologist: 68% → 86%
  • Dentist: 98% → 100%
  • Optometrist: 97% → 97%
  • Orthopedic Surgeon: 82% → 98%
  • Podiatrist: 95% → 97%
  • Chiropractor: 97% → 98%
  • ENT: 89% → 98%
  • Psychiatrist: 63% → 25%
  • Ophthalmologist: 82% → 96%
  • Gastroenterologist: 55% → 63%
  • Urologist: 78% → 78%
  • Pediatrician: 67% → 84%
  • Allergist: 64% → 85%
  • Cardiologist: 98% → 86%
  • Neurologist: 100% → 100%
  • Psychologist: 38% → 24%

New York: Percent of In-Person Appointments in May 2020 versus May 2021

Overall: 60% → 88%

By Specialty:

  • Primary Care Physician: 51% → 87%
  • OB-GYN: 81% → 97%
  • Dermatologist: 50% → 91%
  • Dentist: 93% → 99%
  • Optometrist: 85% → 99%
  • Orthopedic Surgeon: 60% → 96%
  • Podiatrist: 74% → 96%
  • Chiropractor: 97% → 100%
  • ENT: 43% → 94%
  • Psychiatrist: 18% → 13%
  • Ophthalmologist: 77% → 97%
  • Gastroenterologist: 46% → 80%
  • Urologist: 69% → 93%
  • Pediatrician: 65% → 90%
  • Allergist: 58% → 89%
  • Cardiologist: 72% → 93%
  • Neurologist: 53% → 88%
  • Psychologist: 18% → 13%

Texas: Percent of In-Person Appointments in May 2020 versus May 2021

Overall: 77% → 82%

By Specialty:

  • Primary Care Physician: 68% → 77%
  • OB-GYN: 95% → 99%
  • Dermatologist: 81% → 90%
  • Dentist: 100% → 100%
  • Optometrist 96% → 100%
  • Orthopedic Surgeon: 96% → 98%
  • Podiatrist: 94% → 96%
  • Chiropractor: 98% → 100%
  • ENT: 100% → 100%
  • Psychiatrist: 10% → 10%
  • Ophthalmologist: 100% → 100%
  • Gastroenterologist: 70% → 65%
  • Urologist: 90% → 99%
  • Pediatrician: 88% → 91%
  • Allergist: 56% → 82%
  • Cardiologist: 84% → 87%
  • Neurologist: 38% → 78%
  • Psychologist: 23% → 17%

For more information, contact press@zocdoc.com. If you are a healthcare provider who wants to reach new patients and offer seamless access to care — in-person or virtually — you can learn more at zocdoc.com/join.

Editor of Zocdoc Inc.