Health Affairs study reports less usage of Telehealth in less developed areas

Health and Wellness Informatics News

This is a brief synopsis of how the telemedicine visit volumes decreased in the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the Telehealth industry.

The Health Affairs study reports that the preference for telemedicine decreased by 35% in the pandemic. The fall in usage gets mostly marked in communities containing higher rates of poverty. It’s the digital challenges and un-ability to access virtual care that can be the main factor for this downfall.

The study conducted by the RAND Corporation and Harvard researchers wrote, “Although the increase in telemedicine use during the pandemic is widely recognized, it is unclear how the use of telemedicine and in-person care has varied across patient demographics, clinical specialties, and medical conditions.” 

The study claimed that 30.1% of entire visits were registered through telemedicine. Even after evidencing a 23-fold increase in weekly visits, the falling volume remains a matter of concern.

Researchers claim the usage rate of telemedicine visits is lower among senior citizens and rural counties. At the same time, specialists like gastroenterologists, neurologists, etc., provided mostly virtual visits. 

It’s an undeniable fact that every segment of the health care sector evidenced a drop in the overall volume of services. That arouses several questions regarding the future of Telehealth amidst this never-ending pandemic. 

In a December survey, older people, Latinx individuals, Black, and women seemed to be less interested in these services. Also, people with commercial insurance and proper employment were found to be less consistent.   

The Health Affairs researchers on this remarked about informing policies to take care of the deferred care soon. They wrote about introducing schemes like reminder messages, telephone calls. 

Also, critical patients with drops on their regular visits would be taken better care of. Apart from this, healthy systems would also take special care for chronic illness populations. Especially those who are more prone to have deferred care will be prioritized for targeted population management.

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