Determinants of access to eHealth services in regional Australia

Alam, Khorshed and Mahumud, Rashidul Alam and Alam, Fariha and Keramat, Syed Afroz and Erdiaw-Kwasie, Michael O. and Sarker, Abdur Razzaque (2019) Determinants of access to eHealth services in regional Australia. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 131 (Article 103960). ISSN 1386-5056

Abstract

Background: Australia has a universal public healthcare system, but access to eHealth services (i.e. use of the Internet and related technologies for healthcare services) remains a remarkable challenge, particularly in regional, rural and remote communities. Similar to many other countries, Australia faces the challenges of an ageing population and chronic disease management as well as balancing the supply of and the demand for quality healthcare and advanced medical procedures. The prima facie case for inequality in accessing eHealth services across geographical settings is widely acknowledged. However, regional residents’ perceptions on access to eHealth services lack empirical evidence. Therefore, this study empirically investigates the current state and predictors of eHealth service access in regional Australia.

Methods: A cross-sectional questionnaire-based household survey was conducted within a total of 390 randomly selected adults from the Western Downs Region in Southeast Queensland, Australia. Bivariate analysis was conducted to examine the relationship between eHealth access and respondents’ characteristics. A multivariate logistic regression model was also performed to identify the significant predictors of eHealth service access in regional Australia.

Results: Approximately 78% of the households have access to eHealth services. However, access to eHealth services in socioeconomically disadvantaged households was lower (19%) than that of their advantaged counterparts (25%). Factors that significantly increased the likelihood of accessing eHealth services included middle age (odds ratio [OR]=2.75, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.84, 8.66), household size (three to four members) (OR=2.29, 95% CI: 1.19, 4.73), broadband Internet access (OR=1.67, 95% CI: 1.15, 2.90) and digital literacy (OR=2.39, 95% CI: 1.23, 4.59). Factors that negatively influenced access to eHealth services were low educational levels (OR=0.28, 95% CI: 0.09, 0.61), low socioeconomic status (OR=0.65, 95% CI: 0.28, 0.83) and remote locations (OR=0.66, 95% CI: 0.23, 0.80).

Conclusion: Emerging universal eHealth access provides immense societal benefits in regional settings. The findings of this study could assist policy makers and healthcare practitioners in identifying factors that influence eHealth access and thereby formulate effective health policies to optimise healthcare utilisation in regional Australia.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to Published version, in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Commerce (1 July 2013 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions - Centre for Health, Informatics and Economic Research (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2019 03:18
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2020 03:12
Uncontrolled Keywords: eHealth access; information seeking; multivariate logistic regression; regional Australia; western downs region
Fields of Research : 14 Economics > 1402 Applied Economics > 140208 Health Economics
10 Technology > 1005 Communications Technologies > 100502 Broadband and Modem Technology
14 Economics > 1403 Econometrics > 140301 Cross-Sectional Analysis
Socio-Economic Objective: B Economic Development > 91 Economic Framework > 9102 Microeconomics > 910209 Preference, Behaviour and Welfare
B Economic Development > 89 Information and Communication Services > 8901 Communication Networks and Services > 890103 Mobile Data Networks and Services
C Society > 92 Health > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920401 Behaviour and Health
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2019.103960
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/37355

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