Using Telemedicine During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Attitudes of Adult Health Care Consumers in Israel

Sima Reicher, Tal Sela, Orly Toren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected health care services worldwide due to lockdowns, prevention measures, and social distancing. During this period, patients, including older adults and those with chronic conditions, need ways to obtain medical attention other than going physically to the clinic, such as telemedicine services. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate attitudes toward telemedicine during the COVID-19 lockdown in Israel, assess willingness to use such services in the future, and evaluate the extent to which consumers have changed their minds regarding these services. Method: A cross-sectional, descriptive, correlational study was conducted among adults (age 20–90) using social media networks (N = 693). Data were collected using an online questionnaire explicitly designed to measure attitudes toward telemedicine. Results: Most of the participants had to use telemedicine during the lockdown and were satisfied therewith. The majority also stated that they would continue using telemedicine in the future. However, only a third stated that they had changed their minds regarding telemedicine. The main predictors of willingness to use telemedicine in the future were the necessity of using such services during lockdown, preference for going to a clinic, and satisfaction with telemedicine, alongside gender and having a chronic illness. Importantly, we found that a preference for visiting the clinic was negatively correlated with willingness to use telemedicine in the future. Education and being single were predictors of the change of mind regarding telemedicine. Participants with chronic conditions are more likely to use these services, and specific attention should be directed to their needs. A small portion of the study sample prefers live appointments with a physician. Conclusions: Telemedicine use is rapidly changing. It is vital for health care providers to identify non-telemedicine users and their common characteristics. Monitoring patients' attitudes regarding telemedicine is essential in the future after the pandemic ends. Targeted outreach plans should be formulated. These plans should be directed at identifying barriers to using telemedicine, and they should generate specific, focused plans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number653553
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Volume9
DOIs
StatePublished - 17 May 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • adults
  • attitudes
  • chronic illness
  • health care policy
  • telemedicine

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