National Institute on Aging

Telemedicine Could Be a Major Factor in Eliminating Racial Health Care Disparities

Telemedicine appears to be a key to reducing racial inequities in follow-up care after hospitalization, according to a study conducted during the pandemic by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine of the Univerity of Pennsylvania.

As 2020 progressed and telemedicine became one of the main modes for primary care visits, attendance or “show” rates at follow-up appointments after hospitalization climbed among Black patients from 52 to 70 percent. This was comparable to White patients, whose visit completion rates at primary care follow-up appointments were 67 percent by the middle of 2020. The boost the researchers documented effectively eliminated the historical racial gap in show rates to follow-up appointments.

“We do have data that there are racial inequities in geographic access to primary care providers,” notes Eric Bressman, a fellow in the National Clinician Scholars Program and an internist at the University of Pennsylvania medical school. “That is one factor among many that may influence whether a patient is able to make it to a scheduled appointment. It is also one of the ways in which telemedicine might level the playing field in terms of accessing primary care services.”

The full study, “Association of Telemedicine with Primary Care Appointment Access After Hospital Discharge,” was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. It may be accessed here.



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