Access to emerging technologies and telehealth intervention modality preferences in rural patients
The importance of telehealth strategies in addressing the health needs of rural residents has been well documented. A core problem in enacting telehealth strategies for patient education in rural settings, however, is a lasting perception that rural residents do not have access to, comfort with, or willingness to use varying emerging technologies. The current study was undertaken to simultaneously investigate access to technologies, comfort with technologies, and willingness to participate in technology-based interventions among high-need rural clinical populations. A sample of 199 patients was recruited at a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in the rural South using convenience sampling. Participants completed a battery of assessments addressing technology access, use, and comfort as well as likelihood of participating in intervention modalities. Access to technologies among this underserved group was remarkably high; rural patients reported having high levels of access (near or above 50%) for all technologies assessed except for mp3 players. Comfort with using technologies was even higher, and participants reported being most likely to participate in programs taking place at a doctor’s office or in a church. The most likely technology to be embraced for interventions was interactive DVDs. The current study indicates that access to and comfort with emerging technologies is strong among highly underserved patients. Because of their ability to address transportation, access, and privacy concerns in rural settings, technology-based interventions (particularly those using DVDs or texting or delivered at a doctor’s office or church) should be developed and tested specifically for rural populations.
KeywordsRural Telehealth Health promotion Chronic disease management Technology access
- 1.Health Resources and Services Administration. Telehealth [Web page]. http://www.hrsa.gov/ruralhealth/about/telehealth/. Accessed June 28, 2011.
- 2.Palen T, Bodily M. PS3-28: Telemedicine specialty consultation in a medically underserved community. Clin Med Res. 2010;8(3–4):s3–s28.Google Scholar
- 7.Smalley KB, Yancey CT, Warren JC, Naufel N, Ryan R, Pugh JL. Rural mental health and psychological treatment: a review for practitioners. J Clin Psych. 2010;66(5):479–89.Google Scholar
- 8.van Dis J. Where we live: health care in rural vs urban America. MSJAMA. 2002;287(1):108.Google Scholar
- 9.Zgibor JC, Gieraltowski LB, Talbott EO, Fabio A, Sharma RK, Hassan K. The association between driving distance and glycemic control in rural areas. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2011;5(3):494–500.Google Scholar
- 10.DeNavas-Walt C, Proctor BD, Smith JC. Income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in the United States: 2010. US Census Bureau Report. 2011.Google Scholar
- 14.Smith A. 35% of American adults own a smartphone. Pew Research Center. http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Smartphones.aspx. Accessed October 7, 2011.
- 15.Madden M, Zickuhr K. 65% of online adults use social networking sites. Pew Research Center. http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Social-Networking-Sites.aspx. Accessed October 7, 2011.