A Study of Spatial Differentiation in Online Personal Health Realization of Rural Populations

44 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2018 Last revised: 16 Aug 2018

Date Written: March 15, 2018

Abstract

Health care provision for rural areas, and for farms in particular, has been a vital issue for many decades because of the occupational hazards found commonplace in rural areas. In addition the rural population has been a rapidly aging population group with a disproportionate share of the elderly. Rural areas, however, have historically experienced a shortage in health provision and the shortage has increased overtime making the rural health care evermore challenging. One contemporary element in addressing the rural challenge is telehealth. Telehealth, as defined in this research, is the interface, from the perspective of households, between health providers and patients. The study, using detailed household data, analyzes three basic populations: farm, rural, and urban. It also covers three basic telehealth activities: (1) online health research; (2) communication with health provider, including contacting provider, maintaining records, and paying bills; and (3) monitoring an individual’s health by transmittable systems reporting back somewhere in the medical system. Monitoring requires the direct communication between a patient’s FDA-approved monitoring device and their health service provider; as used here, it does not include what are commonly-called wearbles, such as smart watches. Telehealth, in practice, allows more active participation by individuals in their health coverage. The research addresses the need for broadband Internet connections and the technology to connect to the Internet. It is conducted at the individual level for all persons 15 years of age and older. All data is weighted as the survey over sampled some population groups and under sampled others. The analysis uses descriptive statistics to describe the socio-economic characteristics of the individual and their proclivity to use the different telehealth practices. The socio-economic characteristics include: household income, education attainment, age of the individual, race, employment status, and other characteristics. Logistic regression econometrics are used to develop an understanding of the mechanisms driving household telehealth use. Ordered logistic regressions are used to examine the technical needs for individuals to participate in telehealth practices. The preliminary results suggest: Farmers are no less likely to adopt online health practices than other rural people, but farm workers less so. Rural people are less likely to be active in telehealth undertakings. Educational attainment of the individual is major factor in their proclivity to use each of the telehealth activities. Income also plays a role but with varying impact across the telehealth activities. People are less apt to undertake telehealth actions for many reasons, but not apparently for reasons of broadband availability. Location does not affect demand as other socio-economic factors explain the difference in take-up rates. As the sophistication of the telehealth activity increases, so does the need, seemingly, for in-home desktop or laptop technology; the more data intensive, including the need for large screen video, the individual’s telehealth activities are, the more likely they will need a desktop or a laptop.

Keywords: telehealth broadband Internet telemedicine spatial

JEL Classification: O1; O3; R1; R2

Suggested Citation

Stenberg, Peter L., A Study of Spatial Differentiation in Online Personal Health Realization of Rural Populations (March 15, 2018). TPRC 46: The 46th Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3141538 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3141538
No contact information is available for Peter L. Stenberg

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