Social Determinants of Health Continue to Limit Access to Care via Telehealth

Center for Connected Health Policy

April 2021

A study published in JAMA Network Open found that over 27% of visits were conducted virtually in socially advantaged neighborhoods, compared to nearly 20% in disadvantaged areas.

While telehealth increased care delivery during COVID-19, social determinants of health continue to limit access and highlight existing disparities related to the digital divide. A study published in JAMA Network Open found that over 27% of visits were conducted virtually in socially advantaged neighborhoods, compared to nearly 20% in disadvantaged areas. Meanwhile 24% of visits in urban areas were virtual compared to 14% in rural areas. The study also found that virtual care occurred more frequently for mental health visits than medical, that higher age and number of chronic diseases also correlated with higher telehealth utilization, and that increased use of telehealth was seen in areas with “COVID-19 hot spots” as well. The researchers stated that they hope these findings guide policymakers when looking to address ensuring access to care for all populations via telehealth moving forward.

JAMA Network Study: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2777779