We know that telehealth can be a tremendous opportunity to expand healthcare access for people who might face barriers to medical services. But it also may be replicating the digital divide.
In a recent study, researchers examined data from nearly 150,000 unique patients who scheduled telemedicine visits from March 16 to May 11, 2020. They investigated who completed those visits, and how.
Two of those researchers, Dr. Lauren Eberly, a fellow in cardiovascular medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Srinath Adusumalli, assistant chief medical information officer for connected health and assistant professor of clinical medicine, cardiovascular, at Penn Medicine, joined MobiHealthNews Managing Editor Laura Lovett and Healthcare IT News Senior Editor Kat Jercich to discuss their findings and the importance of centering equity in virtual care.
- Structural inequities are pervasive, and the digital divide is real.
- Patients of color have lower rates of access to broadband and digital connectivity.
- In this study, older patients, Asian patients, Medicaid users and non-English speakers were less likely to complete telehealth visits.
- It’s important to meet patients where they are and meet their clinical needs.
- There are many opportunities for telehealth outside of rural care.
- It’s a matter of population health as well – and we have to get it right sooner rather than later.
- This is the chance to rethink strategies to deliver care.
- Vendors should incorporate equity into their design.
- Laying a stronger foundation for reimbursement of care – especially payment parity – would be helpful to safeguard care.
- Broadband access will also be key.
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