Rauch VK, Roderka M, Weintraub AB, Curtis K, Kotz DF, Rothstein RI, Batsis JA. Willingness to pay for a telemedicine-delivered healthy lifestyle programme. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare. 2022;28(7):517-523. doi:10.1177/1357633X20943337
This study explored how willing rural adults were to pay for a remote weight-management program. Researchers conducted a single arm pilot study with 27 adult patients recruited from a medical weight and wellness center. Participants received a 16-week intervention focused on healthy behavior changes, including mindfulness, movement, problem-solving, and nutrition. In the program, a health coach, registered dietician, and nurse exercise specialist delivered weekly 30-minute one-on-one telehealth visits with participants. Researchers collected willingness-to-pay in a two-item survey at baseline and week 16 that asked: 1) at what point they would trade in person visits for telehealth based on commute time to reach the medical center, and 2) whether they would be willing to engage in a telehealth visit with an upfront cost for services. Participants who commute 30-45 minutes reported the highest willingness to trade in-person visits with telemedicine out of all groups. There was a significant increase in participants who would be willing to pay $30 or less for telemedicine from baseline (58%) to 16-week follow-up (69%). There was no significant difference over time in participants’ willingness to pay for telemedicine based on commute times. In qualitative interviews with participants, a majority found the program helpful. Participants also reported the intervention helped reduce travel time and expenses and increased flexibility for families and work. Results demonstrated that in rural areas, a digital weight management program could be acceptable and cost-effective. Research with a larger sample size and longer duration is needed to more accurately gauge patients’ willingness-to-pay for remote program delivery.