A recent study has found that Americans, notably Black Americans and adults with less than a high school education, became more eager to participate in video-based telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study, which was carried out by nonprofit research group RAND Corp., included responses from 1,600 US adults who took part in the RAND American Life Panel. The primary focus of the survey was the respondents utilization of and attitudes regarding telemedicine. Survey participants completed the survey in February 2019, May 2020, August 2020, and March 2021.
According to a research published in Health Affairs, the proportion of Americans who were willing to employ video-based telehealth increased from 51 percent in February 2019 to 62 percent in March 2021. In addition, the percentage of survey respondents who said they had video consultations rose to about 20 percent by August 2020 and 45 percent by March 2021. Furthermore, the survey’s results indicated that black individuals, adults between 20 and 39 years, adults with less than a high school degree, and low-income adults were the sub-groups who reported using telehealth the most by March 2021. However, Americans over the age of 60, Hispanic individuals, and people who had not used telemedicine before the pandemic’s first year all had lower willingness to utilize telehealth in March 2021.
The researchers contend that the COVID-19 pandemic’s restrictions on in-person treatment are most likely responsible for the increase in willingness. Furthermore, the availability of video visits from trusted healthcare practitioners may have encouraged patients to embrace video-based telehealth. “Our findings suggest that more Americans are becoming comfortable with telehealth and using video technology,” said Shira, H.Fischer, the study’s lead author and a physician scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “This is important because there are concerns that lack of access to or willingness to use video telehealth may exacerbate disparities in the delivery of high-quality health care.”
Ultimately, the study found that respondents who utilized telehealth during the pandemic had 5.6 higher odds of increasing their willingness to use it in the future. The researchers concluded that more work is needed to be done, however, in order to ensure equitable access to care amongst all subgroups. “As telehealth establishes a more-permanent place in the delivery of healthcare”, says Fischer. “it will be important to address sources of variation in patients’ willingness to use video telehealth to ensure equitable access to quality care.”