Boros Julianna, Girasek Edmond, Döbrössy Bence, Győrffy Zsuzsa:

Use of digital healthcare among people living with disabilities

2022/2 | #digital health care #disabled people #e-patients #Internet use | DOI: 10.31287/FT.en.2022.2.8

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of digital healthcare solutions that can offer many benefits to all sections of the population, but for some key target groups, such as those with disabilities, there is significant potential for its use in making everyday life easier. In our survey, we examined whether there is a difference in the use of digital health solutions between disabled and the non-disabled people. Using a telephone survey, we inquired about the use of digital health solutions in a nationally representative sample of the Hungarian adult population (n = 1500). As part of the sample, we also obtained information of the characteristics of people with severe disabilities (n = 74) and those with mild disabilities (n = 198). Severely disabled people use the internet half as much as non-disabled people (41.9% vs. 86.6%). However, severely disabled Internet users are more likely to use it on a daily basis for health purposes. Disabled people use websites, blogs, podcasts, social media, and scientific literature search sites to a lesser extent than non-disabled people, but are more likely to connect to online communities and use medical and healthcare professional interfaces. Digital technologies (such as emailing, electronic sharing of findings, online appointments) are less common in interactions with physicians, although they find physicians more positive about patients’ use of the Internet. Although the spread of digital technologies would undoubtedly be useful for people with disabilities, they are still significantly lagging behind those without disabilities, so it would be worthwhile to focus on this target group for both health policy makers and technology developers.