Oregonians and Telemedicine

Have Oregonians used telemedicine before? Did they have a good experience? Do Oregonians prefer telemedicine or in-person appoitnments?

From July 9-14, 2021, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians that included some questions about telemedicine. The questions were intended to gather preliminary data to inform more in-depth research in the months ahead.

The online survey consisted of 1,464 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. This survey’s margin of error, for the full sample, ranges from ±1.5% to ±2.6% depending on how the response category percentages split for any given question. Due to rounding, numbers may not add up to 100%.

Respondents were contacted by using professionally maintained online panels. In gathering responses, a variety of quality control measures were employed, including questionnaire pre-testing, validation, and real-time monitoring of responses. To ensure a representative sample, demographic quotas were set, and data weighted by area of the state, gender, age, and education.

This survey uses aggregated data to analyze the opinions of BIPOC residents in comparison to the opinions of residents who identify as white and not another race. BIPOC residents are not a monolith; the grouping represents a wide diversity of races and ethnicities. The findings included in this memo should not be construed such that all people of color are believed to share the same opinions. Disaggregated race data will be provided when sample sizes permit reliability.

The question numbers in this document correspond with the accompanying survey questionnaire, available at the bottom of the page (Q28-33, & Q37).

Have Oregonians Used Telemedicine? If so, When?

A little over half of Oregon residents have attended medical appointments using telemedicine (52%)(Q28).

  • Attending medical appointments using telemedicine is least common among 18-29 year-old Oregonians. Only 39% of this group had attended medical appointments using telemedicine compared to over 50% for 30-44, 45-54, 55-64, 65-74, and 75+ year-old Oregonians (Q28).
  • Oregonians with higher levels of formal education are more likely to have attended medical appointments using telemedicine. 64% of Oregon residents with a 4-year college degree or more had attended a medical appointment using telemedicine, compared to only 36% of Oregonians with an education of high school or less (Q28).
  • Wealthier Oregonians attended medical appointments using telemedicine more often. 47% of Oregonians who made less than $50,000 had attended telemedicine appointments, compared to 61% of Oregonians who made over $100,000 (Q28).
  • Oregonians who identify as economically liberal were more likely to have attended telemedicine appointments than Oregonians who identify as economically conservative (62% compared to 44%)(Q28). This same trend is present among Oregonians who identify as socially liberal (62%) and socially conservative (47%).

Nearly all Oregonians who attended a telemedicine appointment did so since the pandemic started (90% compared to 10%)(Q29).

  • While Oregonians age 18 to 29 are the least likely to have used telemedicine, those who have used telemedicine are the most likely to have done so before the pandemic started(19%), followed closely by Oregonians over the age of 75 (18%).

Satisfaction with Telemedicine Appointments

Overall, Oregonians are pleased with their telemedicine experiences. 87% of respondents were very/somewhat satisfied with their most recent telemedicine experience, while only 13% of respondents were not very/not satisfied at all(Q30).

  • Oregonians age 75 and older were the least likely to be dissatisfied with their most recent telemedicine experience (8%), while those between the ages of 18 and 29 were twice as likely to have had a bad experience (16%)(Q30).

Preference: Telemedicine or In-Person?

Despite Oregonians’ satisfaction with their telemedicine experiences, most would prefer to attend their medical appointments for routine medical care in-person (62% compared to 27%)(Q31). This percentage difference is even higher for specialty care, with 80% of Oregonians preferring in-person appointments compared to 10% preferring telemedicine appointments(Q32).

  • Older Oregonians prefer in-person medical appointments for routine medical care, more so than younger Oregonians. 81% of Oregonians aged 75+ prefer in-person appointments compared to 57% of Oregonians aged 18-29 and 62% of Oregonians aged 55-64(Q31). The gap between younger and older Oregonians for the desire for in-person appointments is even higher for specialty care, with 92% of Oregonians age 75+ preferring in-person appointments, compared to 68% of Oregonians aged 18-29(Q32).

Oregonians’ Own Thoughts About Telemedicine

Oregonians think telemedicine is very convenient for routine checkups, however, most still prefer in-person appointments, as they feel telemedicine can be impersonal, and conducting certain medical tests is not possible over the internet(Q33)

“My preference for telemedicine appointments depends on what kind of appointment I am having. There are certain things that are more suited to discuss in person. Although telehealth is incredibly nice for routine check-ins.”

Male, Non-binary or gender non-conforming, Trans, age 18-29, Linn County, white or Caucasian

“Face to face allows both doctor and patient to read each other. Also, patients may not have the equipment to get vitals to the doctor.  Face to face also insures privacy during appointments.”

Female, age 55-64, Lane County, Other race or ethnicity

“It seems too impersonal. Not for me.”

Female, age 30-44, Multnomah County, Native American or American Indian and white or Caucasian

“It is convenient and for issues that aren’t that serious or are a follow up, I don’t mind it at all. Generally, for a new complaint or something going on that needs “hands on” diagnosis, I prefer in-person.”

Female, age 65-74, Multnomah County, white or Caucasian

“I think it is smart and effective, but only so much can be done medically over facetime. There are some tests and labs required that mean the patient will be coming into the clinic either way. I think it is great for consults and referrals, but not for much else.”

Female, age 18-29, Marion County, white or Caucasian

Oregonians and Disability

  • Having had a time when they experienced a disability is not uncommon among Oregonians. 44% of respondents stated that they have experienced a time when they had a disability, while 56% did not (Q37). 
  • Oregonians who have a lower income are more likely to have experienced a time when they had a disability. People who make $50,000 or less are more likely than those who make $100,000 or more to have experienced a time when they had a disability (50% compared to 32%)(Q37).

Demographic Trends

Identifying what unites us, understanding what divides us.

Generally, there are statistically significant subgroup differences between BIPOC and white Oregonians, as well as by geographic area description, but for the most part, they are not substantial. The findings are reported to inform public education and communications.

  • Rural Oregonians are less likely to attend medical appointments using telemedicine (44%) compared to urban, suburban, and rural to suburban Oregonians (53-55%)(Q28). Access to reliable, high-speed internet may be a factor in this disparity.
  • While a strong majority of those who have attended a telemedicine appointment are satisfied with their most recent telemedicine experience, those living in rural and rural-changing-to-suburban areas are more likely to have had an unsatisfactory experience (16% and 18%, respectively)(Q30).
  • When it comes to whether they would prefer to attend routine or specialty medical appointments via telemedicine or in-person, urban and rural Oregonians have more in common with one another than they do with Oregonians living in suburban and rural-changing-to-suburban areas.
    • When it comes to routine medical care, Oregonians living in rural and urban areas of the state are the least likely to choose telemedicine over in-person appointments (25% each, vs. 28-29%). They are also more likely than Oregonians living in suburban and rural-changing-to-suburban areas to say they are not sure which they would prefer (12-13% vs. 8-10%). However, urbanites are the most likely to prefer in-person appointments(64%), while rural and suburban residents are the least likely to prefer in-person(62%, each)(Q31).
    • While residents of all areas would much prefer specialty care appointments in-person, urban and rural Oregonians are slightly less likely to choose in-person appointments over telemedicine (77% each), and are once again more likely to say they are unsure which they would choose (urban:12%; rural:11%)(Q32).
  • Rural Oregonians are slightly more likely to have experienced a time when they have had a disability (51%), while those living in suburban areas are the least likely to have experienced a period of disability (60%)(Q37).
  • Oregonians living in rural areas of the state had more to say about the convenience, or inconvenience, of telemedicine appointments than Oregonians in other areas, who mainly focused on either concern about the feasibility of testing, evaluation, and diagnosis, or appointments feeling impersonal (Q33):

“It’s more difficult to show a specific problem. When you’re in person if you have a hard time describing things or if you just have bad internet connection, it’s not an issue. Telehealth has not been convenient because of poor Wi-Fi services.”

Female, age 18-29, Columbia County, Asian or Pacific Islander and Black or African American

“It’s a lot more convenient than having to go to the doctor in person. For the most part, I have been able to do the things I need to do using telemedicine. I live 40 miles away from my doctor, so it works out well for me.”

Male, age 55-64, Linn County, white or Caucasian

“If there is a bad connection at all it makes telemedicine either very difficult or impossible so I feel proper care is being missed.”

Female, age 30-44, Marion County, Native American or American Indian and white or Caucasian

“I’m not opposed to it, but I guess I feel uncomfortable being on camera. Since it is hard to get to specialists from this rural area, it could be very useful for seeing providers.”

Male, age 65-74, Lane County, white or Caucasian

  • BIPOC Oregonians are slightly less likely than white Oregonians to have attended a telemedicine appointment (47% vs. 53%)(Q28). Black, Indigenous, and other Oregonians of color who have used telemedicine are twice as likely as their white peers to have most recently used telemedicine prior to the beginning of the pandemic (BIPOC: 18%, white: 9%)(Q29).
  • One in five BIPOC Oregonians who have attended a telemedicine appointment was “not very” or “not at all” satisfied with their most recent telemedicine experience (20%), while only 12% of white Oregonians had an unsatisfactory experience (Q30).
  • For a routine medical appointment, BIPOC Oregonians are slightly more likely than white Oregonians to choose in-person (64% vs. 62%) and slightly less likely to choose telemedicine (24% vs. 27%)(Q31). Interestingly, the reverse is true for specialty care appointments: BIPOC Oregonians are slightly less likely to choose in-person (76% vs. 51%) and slightly more likely to choose telemedicine (11% vs. 10%)(Q32). Black, Indigenous, and other Oregonians of color were more likely to say they were unsure whether they would choose telemedicine or in-person for both routine and specialty medical appointments (12% and 13%, respectively).
  • Black, Indigenous, and other Oregonians of color are slightly less likely to have experienced a time when they have had a disability than white Oregonians (39% vs. 45%)(Q37).

This research was completed as a community service by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, an independent and non-partisan organization. OVBC is an Oregon charitable nonprofit corporation (www.oregonvbc.org).

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