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Telemedicine in the Post-Pandemic Period: Understanding Patterns of Use and the Influence of Socioeconomic Demographics, Health Status, and Social Determinants.

Authors
  • Chandrasekaran, Ranganathan1, 2
  • 1 Department of Information and Decision Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
  • 2 Department of Biomedical and Health Information Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Telemedicine journal and e-health : the official journal of the American Telemedicine Association
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2024
Volume
30
Issue
2
Pages
480–489
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1089/tmj.2023.0277
PMID: 37585558
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Introduction: The rapid expansion of telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed health care delivery. However, it remains unclear whether telemedicine utilization is equitable across different demographic groups and whether the high levels of adoption during the pandemic have persisted in the post-pandemic period. This study investigates telemedicine use and patterns of use in the initial phases of the post-pandemic period and explores the impact of socioeconomic factors, social determinants of health, and patients' health-related factors on telemedicine utilization. Methods: This study analyzes data from the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) 6, comprising responses from 6,046 U.S. adults collected between March and November 2022. Results: Of 6,046 HINTS respondents, 39.3% (2,517 individuals) reported using telemedicine in the past year. Among telemedicine users, 18.5% used video visits, 12.08% used telephone-based telecare, and 8.72% used both. The main reasons for telehealth visits were minor illnesses (29.67%), chronic condition management (21.4%), annual visits (18.82%), mental and behavioral health concerns (15.72%), and medical emergencies (1.58%). Among non-users, only 17% (578 individuals) were offered telehealth visits, with privacy concerns (16.43%), preference for in-person consultation (84.42%), and difficulty using telemedicine technology (18.96%) being the main reasons for non-use. Logistic regression analysis revealed significant associations of social determinants, socioeconomic demographics, and health factors with telemedicine utilization. Women had a higher likelihood of using telemedicine (odds ratio [OR] = 1.39, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.09-1.78). Older adults showed lower inclination toward telemedicine. Married individuals were more likely to use telemedicine (OR = 1.35, 95% CI = 1.06-1.72), while Whites (OR = 1.52, 95% CI = 1.04-2.22) and Hispanics (OR = 1.80, 95% CI = 1.17-2.75) had higher odds of utilizing telemedicine compared with non-Hispanic African Americans. Lack of reliable transportation (OR = 1.29, 95% CI = 1.01-1.66), frequent provider visits (OR = 1.37, 95% CI = 1.28-1.46), a higher number of chronic conditions (OR = 1.39, 95% CI = 1.22-1.57), and residences in metropolitan locations were also associated with increased telemedicine usage. Greater satisfaction with internet connectivity positively influenced telemedicine utilization. Conclusions: This study highlights the continued preference for in-person visits among U.S. adults in the early post-pandemic period, despite the widespread use of telemedicine. Addressing barriers such as limited access, privacy concerns, technological difficulties, and demographic disparities is crucial for achieving equitable utilization of telemedicine.

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