Patients who are most likely to use telehealth: 5 insights

Telehealth usage has boomed during the pandemic, but its utilization is not spread evenly across all patient populations, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

The study analyzed telehealth usage among patients at Portland-based Oregon Health & Science University, comparing usage from June 1 to Sept. 30 in 2019 to the same period in 2020.

Five findings on how telehealth usage rates changed from 2019-20:

  1. Patients' video visit utilization increased from 0.2 percent to 31 percent.

  2. Video visit utilization was "significantly lower" for patients who were ages 65 and older, male, Black, Indigenous, prefer a language other than English, or enrolled in Medicaid or Medicare.

  3. Patients' telephone visit utilization increased from 2.5 percent to 25 percent.

  4. Patients who were ages 65 and older, Black or non-English speaking were more reliant on telephone visits than video visits.

  5. There was "a small but significant decline" in telehealth usage among patients who were male, Asian, non-English-speaking, or enrolled in Medicaid or Medicare. The study authors said providers "should actively monitor the utilization of telehealth modalities and develop best practice guidelines in order to mitigate the exacerbation of inequities."

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