Publications / Telehealth Experiences and Preferences Among Californians with Low Incomes

Telehealth Experiences and Preferences Among Californians with Low Incomes

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, telehealth has become an important part of the health care delivery system, driven by the need for reduced in-person contact, by changes to reimbursement, and by patient preference. As telehealth’s role in health care grows, it is important to ensure that all Californians have equal access to and satisfactory experiences with telehealth.

To better understand the telehealth experiences of Californians with low incomes, the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) engaged NORC at the University of Chicago to recruit and interview Californians with low incomes who reflect the diversity of the state. From July to November 2022, NORC interviewed 73 Californians with low incomes who had received a telehealth visit in the last year.

Key Findings and Implications for Practice and Policy

Although interviewees report different levels of comfort, satisfaction, and future interest in telehealth, many commonalities in experiences and future preferences for telehealth emerged from this research. Findings are presented below:

  • Telehealth increases access to health care for many Californians with low incomes.
  • Interviewees’ experiences with video visits reveal some trade-offs.
  • Telehealth helps patients build stronger relationships with their providers.
  • Telehealth visits with language-concordant providers are more effective.
  • Californians with low incomes want telehealth to play an integral role in their future care.
  • Patients want to choose or be involved in decisions about the modality of their visits.

The interviewees’ experiences with telehealth reveal ways in which telehealth is not yet reaching its full potential as a critical part of the health care delivery system. Emerging from this research were several key areas for future focus for health systems and policymakers. This report outlines various key strategies for moving telehealth policy and practice forward in California.

The Next Phase of Telehealth

The Telehealth in California video series shares stories of people who are choosing telehealth to access care and stay healthy.


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