Telemedicine Doesn’t Eliminate Healthcare Inequality!!!
Check this out. No you don’t have to read the whole thing. Just the abstract will be fine. Especially because its message is pure common sense. That is, a large-scale study of patients lined up for telemedicine visits found that certain demographics reduce access to telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic. Old age, low income, minority ethnicity, etc. reduce the probability that a patient will use telemedicine.
The reasons for this? DUH! Old people are far less comfortable with technology, and value the social interaction obtained through a personal visit to the doctor’s office. Poor people can’t afford the computer equipment and Internet access required to participate as a patient in a telemedicine encounter. Latinx patients are less comfortable with English, and are thus prone to feel uncomfortable conversing online with an HCP. Etc.
Bottom Line. SO. Even though we might have hoped/expected telemedicine to decrease disparity in healthcare, there are a lot of reasons that this doesn’t happen automatically. Rather, we will need to develop special programs to incorporate each of these demographic subgroups if telemedicine is supposed to help us in the important task of reducing health disparity!