Attitude of Russians to telemedical technologies

Andrei N. Pokida,
Cand. Sci. (Sociology), Director,
Center for Socio-Political Monitoring, Institute for Social Sciences, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA),
Moscow, Russian Federation

Telemedicine is currently one of the actively developing segments of healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic, which began in 2020, has actualized its significance for the Russian population. Government bodies have stepped up their activities in this direction.

Among the main positive aspects of the development of telemedicine, one can note, firstly, the possibility of overcoming geographical distances in order to provide the population with access to various medical services, including narrow-profile specialists. This is most relevant for residents of remote rural areas. Secondly, telemedicine provides an opportunity to receive medical care without leaving home and without having to “stand in line” for an appointment. This was especially important in the context of the anti-epidemiological restrictions associated with COVID-19.

To assess the attitude of the population of the Russian Federation to telemedicine, a sociological study was conducted in April 2021. The results of the study showed a contradictory situation.

Most of the respondents in the Russian Federation are confident that telemedicine is a reduction in the time it takes to receive a service, a convenient alternative to self-medication and the ability to consult a doctor at any convenient time. This is most often stated by citizens who already have experience in online consultations.

At the same time, when using telemedicine, controversial issues arise in connection with the boundaries of its application. This method of receiving medical services cannot replace an in-person visit of a patient to a doctor and a personal examination by a doctor to make a diagnosis and prescribe treatment. Almost a third of respondents believe that telemedicine is a questionable quality of services provided, especially in comparison with face-to-face admission. Most of the claims are related to the high risk of leakage of personal data about the health status of citizens.

The study showed that to date, a small number of respondents have taken advantage of telemedicine opportunities. At the beginning of 2021, only every tenth Russian had experience using remote methods of interacting with doctors in case of illness (online doctor’s consultation in real time, etc.).

At the same time, it cannot be said that citizens are not interested in new technologies. Every third respondent actively uses various mobile devices, mobile applications to maintain a healthy lifestyle (fitness bracelets, smart watches, heart rate monitors, pedometers, etc.).

The low level of use of telemedicine is accompanied by a very restrained attitude of the respondents to the potential possibility of online appeals. Only every third Russian now admits for himself the possibility of seeking medical advice using telemedicine. Every second respondent does not support this form of interaction with medical institutions (doctors).

The attractiveness of telemedicine is considered by the citizens of the Russian Federation to a greater extent from the point of view of the implementation of formalized administrative procedures in connection with the process of providing medical care (services). They generally do not require the mandatory full-time presence of the patient at the doctor. First of all, we are talking about the possibility of ordering medicines by prescription, receiving referrals for examinations, extending sick leave, obtaining (extending) prescriptions for medicines.

Russians are still wary of the possibilities of conducting an initial consultation or monitoring their well-being and condition during the online treatment process. At the same time, as the health status of the respondents improves, the share of positive answers about the possibility of an initial consultation with the use of telemedicine increases. Respondents with chronic diseases are more likely to support control of their well-being and condition in the course of treatment.

The majority of the respondents did not accept the diagnosis, the choice of the method of treatment with the help of telemedicine. The Russians are sure that on such an issue it is impossible to do without a full-time visit to the doctor.

In general, the current research has demonstrated a low level of use of telemedicine opportunities among Russians. There is also a very restrained attitude of the respondents to the possibility of its application in the future. Nevertheless, the potential for developing the capabilities of telemedicine technologies can be characterized as significant. Moreover, its implementation will be successful with the strengthening of the information component to promote such innovations.


Expert article 3034

> Back to Baltic Rim Economies 4/2021

To receive the Baltic Rim Economies review free of charge, you may register to the mailing list.
The review is published 4-6 times a year.