Connected Nation Michigan https://connectednation.org/Michigan recently released a 6 month study in partnership with AARP and the Michigan Health Endowment Fund examining the use and perception of telehealth in 5 counties in rural Michigan. The study “Healthcare from Anywhere: Telehealth Use & Perceptions in Rural Michigan” concentrated on the intersection of telehealth and the digital divide.
The research team conducted digital dial telephone surveys of 2,001 adult heads of households in five rural Michigan counties (Gladwin, Sanilac, Roscommon, Osceola, and Dickinson) representing a cross section of rural portions of the state.
Chris McGovern, Director, Research Development, for Connected Nation Michigan reports, “The five counties were selected due to their differences in terms of geography, employment, and the prominence of non-related healthcare provision networks in each count
Questions focused on current telehealth usage, savings experienced from accessing online healthcare, interest in future use of telehealth services, and barriers that prevent individuals from using the technology. The study also focused on providers including doctors, nurses, medical assistants, and others within the five counties.
Key findings from the study are:
- In the five Michigan counties surveyed, telehealth usage represents a savings of nearly $4.7 million per year for just simple 15 minute visits to general practitioners
- Interacting via a website is the most popular way to use telehealth (36%), followed by interacting via email (34%), text messaging (17%), mobile apps (12%), video conferencing (4%), and social media (4%)
- The top barrier to telehealth usage was a concern about the privacy of the information they needed to share
- That with potential costs or potential risks, some costs would not be covered by insurance or payer
- Remote heart monitoring is the application most used by 3.9% of adults in the 5 counties followed by electronic reminders to take medication by 2.3%, remote blood pressure monitoring 21% remote glucose or blood sugar monitoring 1.8%, and motivational coaching 15%
The key issues that need to be addressed in order to improve and expand telehealth services in Michigan are:
- Access to and use of home broadband service is often too low in rural areas for telehealth to be reliably implemented
- Telehealth services are not reimbursed at all or are reimbursed at a lower level than in-person healthcare services
- Healthcare providers need additional funding to support expansion and improvement of telehealth services
- Telehealth technology must become more integrative by adopting and learning how to use new tools and procedures for each telehealth application
- Support for telehealth in the state needs to be more organized and targeted
To view the report, go to https://bit.ly/2ThWBPX.