By Jenna Becker
Telehealth can and should be used in an intentional effort to reduce health disparities.
Increased COVID-19 mortality rates in communities of color have been a constant, tragic reminder of the ways in which systemic racism causes poor health outcomes in the United States. Immigrants are facing an increased risk of illness and limited access to care. Rural Americans may face an increased risk of serious illness.
Telehealth can reduce barriers to care that these groups face, such as lack of access to transportation, culturally-competent providers, and childcare.
The last six months have seen rapid growth in the use of telemedicine in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to urgent need, regulatory agencies and private insurance companies have loosened requirements that previously inhibited the use of telehealth.
The expansion of telehealth and removal of traditional barriers to care may lead to more equitable health outcomes.