Socioeconomic factors still drive telehealth disparities, study says

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the widespread adoption of telehealth. However, a new report from the Boston-based Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute highlighted telehealth disparities across Massachusetts, the Cape Cod Times reported Dec. 6. 

Three takeaways from the report:


  1. Digital divide remains prevalent: Even if households have stable internet connections, not all patients are digitally literate. The report suggests that health plans should conduct universal screenings for patients who may need digital assistance.


  1. Telehealth needs to be more accessible to non-English speakers: The report highlights that telehealth access can be complicated for patients whose second language is English. This problem can be exacerbated as patients have to understand complicated medical terms.


  1. Awareness remains key: Lack of understanding of telehealth programs is a major driver of disparity. While there is not one answer, Massachusetts Association of Health Plans President and CEO Lora Pellegrini wants to address the issue by sharing more information with public officials.

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