Telehealth use and equity: 4 things to know 

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth use surged as people retreated inside. Despite some decline in usage in September and October 2021, telemedicine is likely to remain a fixture of healthcare moving forward. 

Several recent studies have revealed insights regarding who uses telehealth most. 

Four things to know about how telehealth interacts with health equity:

1. A study from Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital found that Black patients were twice as likely to use telemedicine than white patients, the Boston Herald reported Jan. 20.

2. Telehealth seems to have increased follow-up appointment attendance for Black patients, a study published Jan. 11 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine showed. Compared to white patients, Black patients tend to have lower completion rates of attending follow-up appointments. When Black patients were offered a telemedicine follow-up visit after being discharged from Philadelphia-based University of Pennsylvania Health System, their completion rates rose from 52 percent to 70 percent from January 2020 to June 2020, the study showed.

3. Low-income, non-English-speaking patients of Hispanic and Asian ethnicities are less likely to use telehealth, according to a Jan. 5 study

4. Female physicians, primary care physicians and behavior specialists were more likely to implement virtual care early on during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Dec. 30 study in JAMA Network Open. This stood in contrast to male and surgical specialty physicians.

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