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Pandemic Surge in Telehealth Did Not Worsen Healthcare Disparity: Johns Hopkins researchers

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Findings reported in this month’s Health Affairs show high use of telehealth in disadvantaged neighborhoods among beneficiaries after Medicare restrictions on telehealth were waived.

Use of telehealth services surged during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rate has fallen off since, yet telehealth has now been braided into the provision of U.S. healthcare services and with it have come some hopes that the convenience of telehealth will have a ripple effect on access, continuity of care, adherence and a host of other issues.

But one of the concerns about telehealth has been that its use (and benefits) is far from uniform. More particularly, a number of studies have found disparities in telehealth use by race, ethnicity and some indicators of socioeconomic status. The findings fit with an overall observation that introductions of new technology and services in U.S. healthcare can widen disparity gaps rather than close them.

Findings reported in this month’s issue of Health Affairs won’t extinguish the concern about the unequal effect of telehealth completely, but they may allay them some.

Sanuja Bose and other researchers at Johns Hopkins found that after CMS waived telehealth restrictions in March 2020 because of the pandemic, people living in the most […]

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