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Telemedicine for health issues while abroad: interest and willingness to pay among travellers prior to departure.

Telemedicine for health issues while abroad: interest and willingness to pay among travellers prior to departure.

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Telemedicine for health issues while abroad: interest and willingness to pay among travellers prior to departure.

J Travel Med. 2018 Jan 01;25(1):

Authors: Rochat L, Genton B

Abstract
Background: Telemedicine is emerging as a useful tool to provide expert medical advice to individuals facing health issues while travelling in remote areas. Before embarking on the development of a telemedicine system, we conducted a survey to assess the needs and expectations of travellers for such a service, and evaluate opinions about the importance of various travel criteria that may determine the contract of such insurance.
Objectives: (i) To assess whether a telemedicine service is considered useful by travellers, (ii) to investigate which telecommunication medium is preferred, (iii) to determine which subgroup of travellers would be most interested in this service and (iv) to estimate the amount of money travellers would be willing to pay for a telemedicine service.
Methods: Travellers coming to our clinic for pre-travel advice were given a questionnaire to be filled in before consultation. The questionnaire focused on demographics, travel details, health status, interest and willingness to pay for a telemedicine service.
Results: Among 307 returned questionnaires, 59% of travellers were interested in a telemedicine service. Email was the preferred communication medium for 63%, mobile phone for 46% and video calls for 31% individuals (multiple answers). Travellers aged ≥60 years and those with an immunocompromising condition tended to be more interested in telemedicine (respectively OR = 1.65; 95% CI: 0.75-3.62 and OR = 3.56; 95% CI: 0.41-30.95). The 99% of travellers were willing to pay for such a service. Median price was 50 USD (IQR: 30-50 USD). There was no correlation between travel duration and amount to be paid.
Conclusion: Among individuals consulting for pre-travel advice at a specialized clinic, there is considerable interest in telemedicine, particularly among older and immunocompromised travellers. Based on these data, a pilot system using email communication to help travellers confronted with health issues while abroad was developed and implemented in our travel clinic.

PMID: 29718404 [PubMed - in process]

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