Family Physicians Report Considerable Interest in, but Limited Use of, Telehealth Services

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Abstract

Purpose:

Little is known about the attitudes toward and adoption of telehealth services among family physicians (FPs), the largest primary care physician group. We conducted a national survey of FPs, randomly sampled from membership organization files, to investigate use of and barriers to using telehealth services.

Methods:

Using bivariate analyses, we examined how telehealth usage affected FPs' identified barriers to using telehealth services. Logistic regressions show the factors associated both with using telehealth services and with barriers to using telehealth services.

Results:

Surveys reached 4980 FPs; 1557 surveys were eligible for analysis (31% response rate). Among FPs, 15% reported using telehealth services during 2014. After controlling for the characteristics of the physicians and their practice, FPs who were based in a rural setting, worked in a practice owned by an integrated health system or other ownership structure, and provided hospital/urgent/emergency care were more likely to use telehealth. Physician and practice characteristics by telehealth use status, sex of the physician, practice location, years in practice, care provided, and practice ownership were associated with the barriers identified.

Conclusions:

Telehealth use was limited among FPs. Many of the barriers to using telehealth services cited by FPs are amenable to policy modification.

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