New consumer focus group research with Kansas patients demonstrates that telehealth has increased access to care, has room for improvement, and that patients want telehealth to be a permanent option. This research reinforces results from a 2021 consumer poll of Kansas voters—participants had positive experiences with telehealth, found it to be an important option, and wanted policymakers to support telehealth by increasing access, including broadband capabilities.
The consumer focus group qualitative research, conducted for the Health Fund and REACH Healthcare Foundation by the University of Kansas Medical Center during 2021 and 2022, included an oversampling of Black, Hispanic, Spanish-speaking and rural consumers to ensure sufficient sample sizes of minority populations.
Summary of Patients’ Perspectives
A summary of the patients’ perspectives on telehealth includes:
- Many participants were enthusiastic about continuing to use telehealth—finding it easier, more convenient, safer and a time saver.
- Potential cost savings related to spending less on gas and transportation and saving time, including missing less work, crossed socioeconomic backgrounds, genders, and parental or caregiver status.
- Most suggestions for improvement focused on making telehealth a more integrated part of health care through better care coordination and greater standardization of scheduling, processes, and platforms. Patients wanted to see certainty in terms of costs and payor policies. They also recognized the need for better broadband internet access.
- Telehealth allowed some patients to receive care that was many hours away or that they otherwise would not have been able to access.
- Some participants did not have access to reliable transportation or to transportation at all.
- Patients did not like that it was harder to show providers injuries or other visible health conditions on a telehealth videoconference.
- Most participants reported using their smartphones for telehealth videoconferencing. Many also used laptops, and a few used iPads or other tablets.
- Several participants noted specific barriers to utilizing telehealth regarding interpretation services, insurance coverage, and tech savviness.
- Overall, caregivers of elderly parents and children alike found telehealth to be a convenient option that aided in better use of their time and generally lowered the burden of caregiving.
Kansans want telehealth to remain an option for care. An initial provider survey, a statewide poll of voters, also co-funded by the Health Fund and REACH Healthcare Foundation, in-depth provider interviews, and this consumer focus group research are evidence that telehealth can play a significant role in improving health care access for Kansans.
This was the fourth phase of telehealth research. Join us on Wednesday, September 28 at noon as we present the cross-study results during the Telehealth in Kansas: Provider and Patient Experience During COVID-19 live webinar.
All telehealth materials can be found on our Kansas Telehealth page.
- Consumer focus group report and research brief.
- Provider interview full report and research brief
- Statewide voter poll report and by the numbers
- Fall 2020 provider survey report and policy brief
- Kansas Hospital Association podcast episode: Telehealth’s Current and Future Role in Patient Care
- Forward Focus podcast episode: What we advocate for: Telehealth and digital equity