Original Paper: Access to Digital Communication Technology and Perceptions of Telemedicine for Patient Education among American Indian Patients with Diabetes
Abstract: Introduction. Health care access for medically underserved patients managing chronic conditions is challenging. While telemedicine can support patient education and engagement, the “digital divide” may be particularly problematic among the medically underserved. This study evaluated physical access to digital devices, use of e-mail and social media tools, and perceptions of telemedicine among American Indian (AI) patients with diabetes mellitus (DM). Methods. Survey data were collected from AI patients with DM during teleophthalmology exams. Results. Eighty-eight percent of patients had access to digital device(s), 70% used e-mail, and 56% used social media. Younger age and greater education were positively associated with e-mail and social media use (p<.05). Most (60%) considered telemedicine an excellent medium for health-related patient education. Discussion. American Indian patients with DM had access enabling patient education via telemedicine. Future work should examine patient technology preferences and effectiveness of technology-based education in improving outcomes among medically underserved populations.