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Inequities Seen in Accessing Telemedicine During COVID-19

Patient and telehealth provider
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Key Takeaways

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic period, there have been inequities in accessing telemedicine.
  • Factors independently associated with fewer completed telemedicine visits in multivariable models included older age, Asian race, non-English language as the patient's preferred language, and Medicaid insurance.
  • Factors associated with less video use for telemedicine visits included older age, female sex, Black race, Latinx ethnicity, and lower household income.

(HealthDay News–During the COVID-19 pandemic period, there have been inequities in accessing telemedicine, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.

Lauren A. Eberly, M.D., M.P.H., from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues examined whether inequities are present in telemedicine use and video visit use for telemedicine visits during the COVID-19 pandemic in a retrospective medical record review conducted from March 16 to May 11, 2020. A total of 148,402 unique patients had scheduled telemedicine visits; 80,780 patients completed visits.

The researchers found that factors independently associated with fewer completed telemedicine visits in multivariable models included older age (adjusted odds ratios [aORs], 0.85, 0.75, and 0.67 for those aged 55 to 64, 65 to 74, and ≥75 years, respectively), Asian race (aOR, 0.69), non-English language as the patient’s preferred language (aOR, 0.84), and Medicaid insurance (aOR, 0.93). Factors associated with less video use for telemedicine visits included older age (aOR, 0.79, 0.78, and 0.49 for those aged 55 to 64, 65 to 74, and ≥75 years, respectively), female sex (aOR, 0.92), Black race (aOR, 0.65), Latinx ethnicity (aOR, 0.90), and lower household income (aORs, 0.57 and 0.89 for <$50,000 and for $50,000 to $100,000, respectively).

“As we build our telemedical health system, which is likely here to stay, a new ‘normal’ must prioritize the needs of those who have been historically marginalized to ensure that health equity is achieved,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the health care, pharmaceutical, and medical device industries.

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