UHV economist to research telemedicine usage

Patients have for years connected with their doctors via videoconferencing, to a limited degree, but the spread of the pandemic is what really made telemedicine take off. The question is, how much should telemedicine usage continue once the pandemic is over?

Chien-Ping Chen, a University of Houston-Victoria professor, intends to find out. He was granted academic leave for the fall 2022 semester to pursue a research project aimed at answering this and other questions about telemedicine usage.

Chien-Ping Chen

“Patients do not consider telemedicine a quality service, but the pandemic forced them to accept telemedicine. So, I would like to do research to answer some key questions,” said Chen, a professor of economics in the UHV College of Business. “Of all my research topics, I consider this one as one of the most interesting.”

For his research project this fall, the first question he will seek to answer regards the savings and costs of telemedicine for each participant – the patient, the care provider and the insurance company. Secondly, he wants to learn what, if any, optimal telemedicine adoption rate exists.

“We want to find out if there are any optimal adoption rates for all participants of the whole system, or at least find out the break-even points,” he said.

His third key question is whether the policymakers should continue to promote telemedicine in the post-pandemic period.

Few studies have been done regarding telemedicine usage, and those few have been small in scale, he said, adding that he intends to expand the data for his project so results are more statistically significant.

Chen joined UHV’s faculty 20 years ago and received UHV’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2005 and 2020. He has also received several best paper and teaching awards, including recognition in 2009 from the government of Taiwan for being a Taiwan Distinguished Teacher in the U.S.

Full-time tenured faculty members are eligible for academic leave after they have been employed by UHV for a minimum of five consecutive academic years.

Ken Colwell

“Dr. Chen is an excellent member of UHV’s faculty who values research that can have a positive impact on the world,” said Ken Colwell, dean of the UHV College of Business. I look forward to seeing how his work will highlight telemedicine and how it is used in today’s society.”

In addition to collecting data for his research project, Chen also plans to spend part of the fall semester applying for grants to fund this research. The research is worthy of funding for many reasons, not the least of which is its potential benefit to the health care system, he said.

“This research could provide important information for policy makers,” he said. “If we can get some methodology to measure the savings and find out the optimal adoption rate of telemedicine, then it could definitely help lower the high medical costs in the U.S.”

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.