Increasing government funding of telemedicine during the pandemic led more minority populations and patients in metropolitan areas to use telemedicine.
Johns Hopkins University studied 30 million Medicare claims that were submitted between 2019 – 2021. Prior to the CMS waiver in 2020, telemedicine was only accessible in designated rural areas or specific medical facilities. Before the CMS waiver expanded telehealth access, only .42% of patients had experienced at least one outpatient telehealth visit. The study found that there were no significant differences in use between people with different levels of disadvantage, but there were notable differences based on location. People in rural areas used telemedicine more often than those in metropolitan areas, while elderly and African American patients were less likely to use it. When adjusted for demographic factors, females and those in rural areas increased the likelihood of using telemedicine while elderly and African American patients decreased it.
After the accommodation, telemedicine was covered nationwide with nearly 10% of patients using telemedicine in the outpatient setting. It was noted that women, Asians, and Hispanics were more likely to use telemedicine than men.
Researchers found that there was a surprising inverse relationship between telemedicine coverage and socioeconomic status. This means that an increase in telemedicine coverage did not contribute to health disparities.
Mend advocates for legislation to offer reimbursement for telemedicine services that are available beyond the national public health emergency and for improved accessibility for those who are at a socioeconomic disadvantage.
To learn more about how telemedicine can help your organization reach more underserved communities, contact us here at Mend.