January 24, 2022

Socioeconomic differences in telemedicine use for ambulatory surgical care during COVID-19

Editor's Note

This study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, finds that Black patients used telemedicine platforms more often than White patients for ambulatory surgical care during Phase 2 of COVID-19.

During Phase 1 (March 24 through June 23), there were 347 in-person and 638 virtual visits. Multivariate analysis found no significant differences in virtual versus in-person visits across racial/ethnic or insurance groups.

Other findings during Phase 1:

  • Latinx patients were less likely to have video versus audio-only virtual visits than White patients.
  • Black race and insurance type were not significant predictors of video use.

During Phase 2 (June 24 through December 31, 2020), there were 2,922 in-person and 1,001 virtual visits. Multivariate analysis found that Black patients were more likely to have virtual visits than White patients.

Other findings during Phase 2:

  • There were no significant differences across insurance types.
  • Race/ethnicity and insurance type were not significant predictors of video use.

The researchers concluded that virtual consultation may help increase access to surgical care among under-resourced populations.

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