Quality Institute and Rutgers-Eagleton explore views on ‘telehealth’ in latest New Jersey Health Matters poll

The entire report is available at: http://eagletonpoll.rutgers.edu/ecpip-njhcqi-2017-telehealth-report/.

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute (NJHCQI), in partnership with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, released a poll today exploring how New Jersey residents feel about “telehealth,” which allows patients to use video calls, text and other technology to receive health care services. This poll is the latest in the Health Matters series, a partnership between the two organizations that studies New Jerseyans’ attitudes on a variety of health-related issues.

Eighty-four percent have never received medical care from a health professional through either an electronic device, such as a tablet or computer, or the telephone. But that does not mean New Jerseyans are not willing to try it: residents say they would be comfortable using telehealth methods for a wide range of reasons, especially when it comes to medical consultations and prescription refills, as well as an initial consultation or follow-up visit.

A number of New Jerseyans also see the potential benefits of telehealth.  About three in 10 would be more likely to choose telehealth methods over in person visits if they could have a longer visit, could receive care sooner, or spend less.

The poll comes as New Jersey legislators are contemplating laws to define the licensing, privacy, and payment questions that have been raised by the rapid expansion of telehealth throughout the nation.

“Telehealth holds great promise to increase access to care and to supplement in-person medical care,” said Linda Schwimmer, President of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. “We asked these questions so we could better understand the comfort level New Jersey residents have with using telehealth. We looked at how people feel about using this technology in different situations, and also how responses vary among different sectors of the population.”

The poll is an important guide for industry leaders developing telehealth programs to find the best ways to meet the needs — and address the concerns — of people in New Jersey.

The poll found that although most residents are new to telehealth, many, especially millennials, are willing to use technology as a new way to access health care.

“The delivery of health care has continually evolved — from house calls, to the local family doctor, to larger practices with electronic health records.” Schwimmer said. “The next step on the continuum is the virtual office visit.  We found an openness and interest in this next stage of health care, but not for everything or everyone.”

“Age is key when it comes to residents’ views on telehealth,” said Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling. “Given teleheath’s implied usage of technological devices such as smartphones and tablets, older generations are consistently less likely than younger generations to embrace telehealth methods across a variety of circumstances.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 772 adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Oct. 28 to Nov. 3, 2016. The sample has a margin of error of +/-4. percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

About the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute

The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute is the only independent, nonpartisan, multi-stakeholder advocate for health care quality in New Jersey. The Quality Institute’s mission is to undertake projects and promote system changes that ensure that quality, safety, accountability and cost-containment are closely linked to the delivery of health care services in New Jersey. Learn more about us at www.njhcqi.org.

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