Technological access barriers, telehealth use and health care visits in the early pandemic period

Shannon I. Maloney, Lisa Marie Pytlik Zillig, Elizabeth Mollard, Angela Palmer-Wackerly, Sharon N Obasi, Megan S Kelley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: This study sought to characterize the role of technological barriers in limiting access to telehealth services. Methods: The study used data obtained from the 2020 Nebraska Annual Social Indicators Survey (NASIS). A total of 2,213 out of 8,000 respondents returned a completed survey. Multivariate models were developed to estimate the relationship between demographic characteristics, technological barriers and overall telehealth utilization. An additional model was used to estimate the relationship between telehealth use and health care visits in the past year, controlling for the available demographic characteristics. Ordinal logistic regression was used. Results: Approximately 27.9 percent of respondents had ever used telehealth services. Individuals who had used telehealth services were significantly more likely to have seen a health care provider for reproductive health or for a specific health need in the past year. Approximately 7.2 percent of survey respondents reported access to reliable internet as a barrier to telehealth use, 9 percent reported cost of internet services as a barrier and 7.1 percent reported access to electronic devices as a barrier. Respondents over 65 and those with lower education attainment were more likely to experience barriers to accessing technology. Holding technological access constant, telehealth use was significantly lower among males, individuals over 65 and rural residents. Conclusions: Factors other than cost and access to technology may be driving lower rates of telehealth use among these populations. The findings can help policymakers and health systems strategize approaches to increase access to telehealth among underserved populations. Public abstract: Limitations in technology access may limit the usefulness of telehealth in connecting underserved patients to care. This study sought to understand the role of technological barriers in limiting access to telehealth services. Using data obtained from the 2020 Nebraska Annual Social Indicators Survey (NASIS), this study summarizes telehealth use among a random sample of individuals in rural and urban Nebraska. The study then assesses whether lower access to technology is associated with reduced use of telehealth services. Approximately 7.2 percent of survey respondents reported access to reliable internet as a barrier to telehealth use, 9 percent reported cost of internet services as a barrier and 7.1 percent reported access to electronic devices as a barrier. Holding technological access constant, telehealth use was lower among males, individuals over 65 and rural residents. Factors other than access to technology may be driving lower rates of telehealth use among these populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100693
JournalHealth Policy and Technology
Volume11
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Delivery of health care
  • Health care quality, access and evaluation
  • Health policy
  • Health services
  • Patient acceptance of health care
  • Telehealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Health Policy

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