Patterns of Technology Use in Patients Attending a Cardiopulmonary Outpatient Clinic: A Self-Report Survey

JMIR Publications
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Interactive Journal of Medical Research, 2015, 4 (1), pp. 1 - 14
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Background: Self-management education for cardiopulmonary diseases is primarily provided through time-limited, face-to-face programs, with access limited to a small percentage of patients. Telecommunication tools will increasingly be an important component of future health care delivery. Objective: The purpose of this study was to describe the patterns of technology use in patients attending a cardiopulmonary clinic in an academic medical center. Methods: A prevalence survey was developed to collect data on participant demographics (age in years, sex, and socioeconomic status); access to computers, Internet, and mobile phones; and use of current online health support sites or programs. Surveys were offered by reception staff to all patients attending the outpatient clinic. Results: A total of 123 surveys were collected between March and April 2014. Technological devices were a pervasive part of everyday life with respondents engaged in regular computer (102/123, 82.9%), mobile telephone (115/117, 98.3%), and Internet (104/121, 86.0%) use. Emailing (101/121, 83.4%), researching and reading news articles (93/121, 76.9%), social media (71/121, 58.7%), and day-to-day activities (65/121, 53.7%) were the most common telecommunication activities. The majority of respondents reported that access to health support programs and assistance through the Internet (82/111, 73.9%) would be of use, with benefits reported as better understanding of health information (16/111, 22.5%), avoidance of difficult travel requirements and time-consuming face-to-face appointments (13/111, 18.3%), convenient and easily accessible help and information (12/111, 16.9%), and access to peer support and sharing (9/111, 12.7%). The majority of patients did not have concerns over participating in the online environment (87/111, 78.4%); the few concerns noted related to privacy and security (10/15), information accuracy (2/15), and computer literacy and access (2/15). Conclusions: Chronic disease burden and long-term self-management tasks provide a compelling argument for accessible and convenient avenues to obtaining ongoing treatment and peer support. Online access to health support programs and assistance was reported as useful and perceived as providing convenient, timely, and easily accessible health support and information. Distance from the health care facility and a lack of information provision through traditional health sources were both barriers and enablers to telehealth. This is particularly important in the context of a cardiopulmonary clinic that attracts patients from a large geographical area, and in patients who are most likely to have high health care utilization needs in the future. Telecommunication interfaces will be an increasingly important adjunct to traditional forms of health care delivery.
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