You are here

Telehealth services in Ontario: Are immigrants using them?

TitleTelehealth services in Ontario: Are immigrants using them?
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsBatista, R., Ng E., Dahrouge S., and Pottie K.
InstitutionNorth American Primary Care Research Group
CityOttawa, ON

Context: Telephone health services can benefit both the health system and the patients. These services can potentially help vulnerable populations, such as immigrants and refugees, who face challenges accessing primary health services. Telehealth services have been growing in Canada in the last decade. Ontario Teletriage/Telehealth is one of the largest models in the country and the use of this service has increased progressively. However, its impact on health care accessibility is far from expected. Objective: This study sought to identify whether immigrants are using primary care and telephone health services; and the difficulties they are facing, if any. Design: Quantitative study, a secondary data analysis using Canadian Community Health Survey datasets (cycles 2009 and 2010). Descriptive and logistic regression analyses were carried out to assess immigrant's access to primary health care and use of Telehealth services in Ontario. Setting: General community. Participants: Ontario residents. Results: Only 11% of recent immigrants (less than 10 years) in Ontario have used Telehealth services, while non-immigrants use this service two times more (22%). Compared to long-term and non-immigrants, recent immigrants have more difficulties to receive health information or advice when they need it. Similarly they have more problems to receive routine and immediate care. Language (not speaking English or French) represents the most important barrier that determines that access to primary care services. After controlling for age, sex, education, income and length of stay in Canada; language difficulties (1.39; 95% CI 1.36-1.44) and being a visible minority (1.43; 95% CI 1.41-1.45), were the most relevant factors to obtain health information among immigrants. Conclusions: For Canadian-born and long term immigrants in Ontario, the use of Telehealth services represents a primary source of information and advice, however among recent immigrants this is not the case; and language and minority status are influencing that situation.