First-of-its-kind survey shows early acceptance

Telemedicine in Upstate NY

Nearly five out of 10 upstate New York adults are aware of telemedicine, and 80 percent of those who have used telemedicine rated their experience as “very good” or “excellent,” according to a survey commissioned by Univera Healthcare.

The online survey administered by the polling firm One Research contacted 2,000 upstate New York adults, a representative sample of the region’s U.S. Census Bureau demographics.

“Telemedicine services are widely and quickly being made available in the region, so we thought it was important to get a handle on levels of awareness that exist and regional responses to a broad spectrum of related questions,” said Martin Lustick, senior vice president and corporate medical officer for Univera’s parent health plan. Respondents who had health insurance were not asked to identify their insurance carrier.

About one-quarter of survey respondents indicated that they plan to use telemedicine in the future, while an equal number said they did not plan to use it. About half of the respondents were undecided.

The percentage of respondents who plan to use telemedicine varied significantly by region:

Western New York………………………..20%

Finger Lakes…………………………….…..25%

Central New York………………………….23%

Central New York’s Southern Tier.….31%

Utica/Rome/North Country…………….31%

Respondents who reported that they had either used or were familiar with telemedicine were asked their first and second choice for having any future minor medical condition needs addressed. An in-person visit with their doctor ranked highest, followed by a telemedicine visit with their doctor. Use of an urgent care center, and a telemedicine visit with a provider other than their own doctor ranked third and fourth. Going to a hospital emergency room ranked last as a preference for treating minor conditions.

“That initial ranking was gratifying as a finding to us,” Lustick said, “Because our repeated promotions around a telemedicine option have been very clear. Ideal medical care is when a patient can see his or her doctor. We’ve said the second best choice, if available, is a telemedicine visit with their physician. A new option we’ve been suggesting is to consider a telemedicine visit with another provider for treatment of minor conditions. With time, we expect that will gain in popularity over going to an urgent care center.”

Other highlights in the survey show:

  • Approximately one-third of upstate New York respondents who are between the ages of 18 and 44 plans to use telemedicine. Interest in using telemedicine declines with age.
  • Preference for in-person interaction is the main reason why respondents don’t use telemedicine.
  • People who use telemedicine are significantly more likely to report using it again.
  • On weekdays, telemedicine is mostly used during daytime hours, however weekend use is typically at night (between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.).

The survey results establish a benchmark for consumer acceptance and use of telemedicine. Univera will conduct additional surveys to track possible changes in attitudes. View results of the Univera survey online at http://tinyurl.com/hcbta26