Public Health and Primary CareORIGINAL ARTICLE

Associations of clinical personnel characteristics and telemedicine practices

Gunnar Phillips, BS; Robert Millhollon, BS; Covenant Elenwo, MPH; Alicia Ito Ford, PhD; Natasha Bray, DO; and Micah Hartwell, PhD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: January 30, 2024

Accepted: May 7, 2024

Published: June 11, 2024

  • Gunnar Phillips, BS, 

    Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, OK, USA

  • Robert Millhollon, BS, 

    Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cherokee Nation, Office of Medical Student Research, Tahlequah, OK, USA

  • Covenant Elenwo, MPH, 

    Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cherokee Nation, Office of Medical Student Research, Tahlequah, OK, USA

  • Alicia Ito Ford, PhD, 

    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, Tulsa, OK, USA

  • Natasha Bray, DO, 

    Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cherokee Nation, Office of Medical Student Research, Tahlequah, OK, USA

  • Micah Hartwell, PhD, 

    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, Tulsa, OK, USA

Abstract

Context: The use of telemedicine strategies has been increasing in the United States for more than a decade, with physicians taking advantage of this new tool to reach more patients. Determining the specific demographics of physicians utilizing telemedicine most in their practice can inform recommendations for expanded telemedicine use among all physicians and aid in mitigating the need for local physicians in urban and rural populations.

Objectives: This study aims to assess the use of telemedicine by physicians in 2021, based on four demographics utilizing the National Electronic Health Record Survey (NEHRS): physician age, sex, specialty, and training.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study of the 2021 NEHRS to determine the relationship between physician characteristics and telemedicine practices. Differences between groups were measured through design-based chi-square tests.

Results: Compared to male physicians, female physicians were more likely to utilize telemedicine services (X2=8.0; p=0.005). Compared to younger physicians, those over the age of 50 were less likely to utilize telemedicine services (X2=4.1; p=0.04). Compared to primary care physicians, medical and surgical specialty physicians were less likely to utilize telemedicine services, with surgical specialty physicians being the least likely overall (X2=11.5; p<0.001). We found no significant differences in telemedicine use based on degree (Osteopathic and Allopathic).

Conclusions: Our results showed a statistically significant difference between physician’s age, sex, and specialty on telemedicine use in practice during 2021. Efforts to increase telemedicine use among physicians may be needed to provide more accessible care to patients. Thus, by increasing physician education on the importance of telemedicine for modern patients, more physicians may decide to utilize telemedicine services in practice.

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