A wide-ranging study published this past week in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that older people, women, Black and Latinx individuals, and patients with lower household incomes were less likely to use video for telemedicine care during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The cohort study, which researchers called “the first large-scale study to characterize inequitable access to telemedical care,” relied on data from nearly 150,000 unique patients who scheduled telemedicine visits from March 16 to May 11, 2020. It found that older patients, Asian people, and non-English-speaking individuals had lower rates of completed telemedicine visits.
“Telemedicine has the potential to be leveraged to increase access to care among patient groups that may have traditionally faced barriers to in-person care,” wrote researchers. “However, we must be intentional with implementation to ensure that all patients are equipped to effectively participate in telemedicine care.”
WHY IT MATTERS
The research team from the University of Pennsylvania health system sought to compare the demographic characteristics of patients who completed a telemedicine encounter (either via phone or video) with those who were scheduled for one, but did not complete it.
Using the electronic health record, the team extracted demographic information for