A First Look: Ontario Telemedicine Use by Age and Sex
e-Health ePoster Library. Hogenbirk J. Jun 5, 2017; 167115; EP03.02
Mr. John Hogenbirk
Mr. John Hogenbirk
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Abstract
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Purpose/Objectives: Ontario is a very diverse province; while Northern Ontario contains 88% of the province’s landmass, 94% of the province’s population resides in Southern Ontario. This creates very different contexts for health care service provision. The Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) uses technology to connect patients and health care providers across the province. Although there has been research on women’s health, aging and health, and the implications of rurality on access to health care services, there is little research to date showing the connections between these factors and telemedicine utilization in Ontario.

Methodology/Approach: We obtained OTN medical service utilization data collected through the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) and provided by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC). Initial investigations used data that was aggregated by census subdivision, billing code, and month and year of visit. The data did not contain information on age and sex of patients, but we were able to identify visits with gynecological, obstetrics and geriatric billing codes to infer age and gender for preliminary analyses.

Finding/Results: A total of 22% of clinical telemedicine visits occur with patients from rural Northern Ontario; an area with only 2% of Ontario’s population. For telemedicine patient visits using obstetrics or gynecology codes, this figure rises to 72%. In comparison, 14% of visits with obstetrics and gynecology codes occur with patients residing in the urban north, 10% in the urban south and 3.5% in the rural south. Similarly, at 42%, a disproportionate number of visits using geriatric codes take place with patients from rural Northern Ontario, compared with 30% from urban Southern Ontario, 16% rural Southern Ontario and 12% urban Northern Ontario.

Conclusion/Implication/Recommendations: Northern Ontario’s sparse population across a large geographic area creates unique barriers to health care services, and much of the north is medically underserved. Our data suggest that telemedicine is being used differently by men and women and by older adults in rural Northern Ontario than in the rest of the province. The findings demonstrate the potential to increase access to medical services in medically underserved areas of rural Northern Ontario for women and older adults and reduce the need for medically related travel.

140 Character Summary: This research examines selected age- and sex-specific telemedicine use in Northern and Southern Ontario by rurality.
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