NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – A recent poll has found that 84% of New Jersey residents have never received medical care from a health professional through either an electronic device like a tablet or computer, or the telephone, but they’re open to it.
“This poll shows that telehealth is an immature market in New Jersey,” said Linda Schwimmer, president and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. “We’ll probably see a lot of change in the near future.”
The poll was given to residents in New Jersey by the NJHCQI, in partnership with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers, The State Unversity of New Jersey. About 770 adults responded.
The poll found that the extent of comfort with receiving medical care through an electronic device or telephone depends on exactly what type of care is needed. Nearly half of respondents said they were comfortable with using electronic devices or telephones for medication consultations and prescription refills.
Initial consultations via telehealth to determine if an in-person visit is necessary cause New Jersey residents the most discomfort, found the poll, and over half of them said they are comfortable sending and receiving personal medical information via an electronic device or phone.
Schwimmer said the poll shows that clear laws and regulations around telehealth are needed in the state. They are being discussed at the executive level.
“The lack of clarity around telehealth has held back investment and creative development in New Jersey,” Schwimmer said. “Investment by telehealth companies in our state is not happening because the reimbursement policies are not clear.”
Once those obstacles are eliminated with legislation, Schwimmer said, engaging consumers is the next step.
“So many creative uses for telehealth can come about, especially when it comes to home health care,” Schwimmer said. “In other states, caregivers are going in to homes and using technology like tablets or computers to interact with specialists to facilitate treatment or care. I’m excited to see that happen here.”
Schwimmer said the NJHCQI sent the poll results to New Jersey legislators who are considering legislation, and to other decision-makers.
“Telehealth is a growing industry and will continue to move forward,” said Schwimmer. “These poll numbers will make the case for that argument.”