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The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-95) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
CT has made substantial contributions to conception and design, analysis and interpretation of data; and drafted the manuscript. MM has made substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, and analysis of data. OM has been involved revising it critically for important intellectual content. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
General practitioners (GP) in rural areas of Germany are struggling to find successors for their private practices. Telemonitoring at home offers an option to support remaining GPs and specialists in ambulatory care.
We assessed the knowledge and attitude towards telemedicine in the population of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany, in a population-based telephone survey.
Out of 2,006 participants, 734 (36.6%) reported an awareness of telemedical devices. Only 37 participants (1.8%) have experience in using them. The majority of participants were in favour of using them in case of illness (72.2%). However, this approval declined with age. These findings were similar in rural and urban areas. Participants who were in favour of telemedicine (n = 1,480) strongly agreed that they would have to see their doctor less often, and that the doctor would recognize earlier relevant changes in their vital status. Participants who disliked to be monitored by telemedical devices preferred to receive immediate feedback from their physician. Especially, the elderly fear the loss of personal contact with their physician. They need the direct patient-physician communication.
The fear of being left alone with the technique needs to be compensated for today's elderly patients to enhance acceptance of home telemonitoring as support for remaining doctors either in the rural areas or cities.