Study results show that younger female patients are more likely to attend telemedicine before the pandemic

• According to a new study published on JAMA Network Open prior to COVID-19, female patients and adults between 18 and 44 years of age can choose more telemedicine visits than men or other ages.

• The study, which analyzed data from 1.1 million primary care patients via the Kaiser Permanente online portal in Northern California between January 2016 and May 2018, found that only 14% of their appointments were made via telemedicine, mainly by telephone.

• Although most patients prefer face-to-face visits, those with high access to technology and those awaiting transport or logistic assistance may choose the best visit. Likewise, patients are more likely to opt for a telemedicine visit if they are an independent physician rather than a new physician.

COVID-19 infections and national regulations are rapidly expanding telemedicine services among service providers and patients. However, the new discovery offers little action before a new coronavirus emerges.

Patients who choose to visit may be able to do so because their insurance plan requires a higher cost of face-to-face visits than telemedicine visits, the researchers said. However, other patient characteristics, including limitations on outpatient visits, are related to the choice of telemedicine.

Patients with flight times greater than 30 minutes were more likely to opt for telemedicine than patients with travel times less than or equal to 20 minutes. They are more likely to choose to visit telemedicine if the hospital has free parking instead of paying for a parking space.

Access to the Internet is also an obstacle to accessing telemedicine. Neighbors with more Internet access may prefer video tours over those in the restricted area.

Patients living in economically disadvantaged areas are less likely than others to choose video tours. Those interested in non-English SMS may not prefer the telemedicine format to those who speak English.

The researchers found that black patients were more likely than white patients to choose two types of telemedicine, while Hispanic patients were less likely than white patients to choose videos. Asian patients choose video more than white patients, but less than white patients choose the phone.

With a makeover, black patients may prefer phone and video visits over other breeds.