Digital technologies offer new platforms for health promotion and disease management. Few studies have evaluated the use of digital technology among families receiving care in an urban pediatric primary care setting.
A self-administered survey was given to a convenience sample of caregivers bringing their children to 2 urban pediatric primary care centers in spring 2012. The survey assessed access to home Internet, e-mail, smartphone, and social media (Facebook and Twitter). A “digital technology” scale (0–4) quantified the number of available digital technologies and connections. Frequency of daily use and interest in receiving medical information digitally were also assessed.
The survey was completed by 257 caregivers. The sample was drawn from a clinical population that was 73% African American and 92% Medicaid insured with a median patient age of 2.9 years (interquartile range 0.8–7.4). Eighty percent of respondents reported having Internet at home, and 71% had a smartphone. Ninety-one percent reported using e-mail, 78% Facebook, and 27% Twitter. Ninety-seven percent scored ≥1 on the digital technology scale; 49% had a digital technology score of 4. The digital technology score was associated with daily use of digital media in a graded fashion (P < .0001). More than 70% of respondents reported that they would use health care information supplied digitally if approved by their child’s medical provider.
Caregivers in an urban pediatric primary care setting have access to and frequently use digital technologies. Digital connections may help reach a traditionally hard-to-reach population.