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Surveys show Telehealth is a useful tool for Cook County residents

Sep 13, 2023 09:55AM ● By Content Editor
Photo: Markus Winkler 

By Chance Lasher - Wilderness Health - September 13, 2023

What do Cook County residents think about their internet access? On behalf of the Department of Employment and Economic Development Office of Broadband Development (OBD), Wilderness Health listened and surveyed Cook County residents as part of a statewide plan to understand the stories behind internet and digital access. 

Of the 141 respondents in Cook County, both online and in person, over 23% said their largest issue with technology was their lack of digital skills. These experiences with technology included wanting more training, lacking training and experience, and feeling technology moved too fast for them to keep up with.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents said their home internet was disconnected for five days or more due to a technical problem, bad weather, or other reasons, and 20% of participants listed expensive internet as their main access issue. Not having the internet means not having access to digital resources and connections, like healthcare. 26% said they used the internet to access healthcare services once a week, and 39% used Telehealth once a week. Telehealth is especially useful in rural areas when the transportation from home to the clinic can be time and/or cost-prohibitive.

There was a discrepancy among respondents. 45% said they could use Telehealth very easily, but 29% preferred in-person healthcare appointments. It shows that while people still prefer face-to-face conversations, they recognize the value and convenience of Telehealth.

The importance of libraries and community spaces for internet, devices, and tech help was a very common theme among our conversations and data. The most commonly used places for the internet (other than one's home) were libraries (34%), followed by community centers (20%).  If you’re looking for device rental and internet resources, Lighthouse Center for Vital Living provides device loans and training in northeastern Minnesota.

Related: Free support services for K-12 students and adult learners from Cook County Higher Education

Internet infrastructure, technology skills, and devices are now more integral to healthcare than ever before, and the conversation to make them more accessible is not over. You can read a draft of the digital opportunity plan or ask your local library for a copy. 

The Office of Broadband Development will hold public comment on their statewide digital opportunity plan in-person on September 19th at the Two Harbors Library from 2-4pm. Virtual events are available. Register at: (  If you are unable to attend, submit written comments through the Office of Broadband Development’s website or by mail through September 29. 

Thank you to Hilja Iverson, Grace Grinager, The Hub, and Grand Marais Public Library. Also, thanks to Jenn Sorenson, Polly James, and Jacki Kozlowski for their help with organizing efforts in the Grand Portage Band of Chippewa. 

Thanks to the Department of Employment and Economic Development Office of Broadband Development for the opportunity to collect our communities' stories and data. 

Where do Cook County Residents Use the Internet in a Pinch?

If you don’t have internet access at home or if your home internet connection is unavailable, do you go to any of the following places to use the internet instead?

Collected Cook County, June-July 2023

 How often do Cook County Residents use Telehealth?

Collected Cook County, June-July 2023

Chance Lasher is a telehealth intern with Wilderness Health, a collaborative of independent health care partners in Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin.

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