Factors Associated with Using Telemedicine in the Primary Care Clinics during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Israel

Orna Reges, Ilan Feldhamer, Yael Wolff Sagy, Gil Lavie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic generated an extraordinary need for telemedicine. Objective: To identify the factors and multi-way interactions associated with telemedicine use in primary healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: This population-based study included all members (2,722,773) aged ≥18 years of the largest healthcare organization in Israel who used primary care clinic services between 1 March 2020 and 31 December 2021. Individuals were classified as telemedicine users (≥1 phone/video visits or asynchronous encounters) or non-telemedicine users (only in-person encounter/s). Results: Ethnicity was the most discriminative variable associated with telemedicine use, with 85% and 52% users among Jews and Arabs, respectively. Higher odds for telemedicine utilization were observed among women, residents of urban areas, those confined to home, individuals with high level of technology literacy, residents of the central area (in Jews only), young Jews, and older Arabs. Based on decision tree analysis, the segments of the population with the lowest telemedicine use were characterized by lower primary care needs and comorbidities, as well as low technology literacy. The proportion of telemedicine use in these groups was 56% and 27% in Jews and in Arabs, respectively. Conclusion: A proactive intervention program should be applied among populations who are less likely to use telemedicine in the primary care clinics, including Arabs, Jews who live in the distant periphery, and individuals with low technology literacy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13207
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume19
Issue number20
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • health inequality
  • primary care visits
  • telemedicine

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