Populations Of Lower Socioeconomic Backgrounds Are Less Likely to Benefit Gain from Telehealth, Study Finds

by | Aug 11, 2022

According to a study published in JMIR, populations with lower incomes are less likely to gain from telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the nature of COVID-19, in-person care had to be reduced to only the necessary to prevent the spread of the virus, particularly in healthcare environments. As a result, the adoption of telehealth increased dramatically.
The largescale use of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic has offered experts an insight into its benefits and shortcomings. Advantages to telehealth include reducing pressure on the healthcare system, costs savings, aiding patients with limited mobility, expediting timely care, and reducing rural barriers to care. As the danger of the pandemic weigns, and its restrictions continue to be lifted, healthcare providers hope to maintain telehealth as a key component of healthcare post-pandemic.
The goal of the study published by JMIR, was to determine who would benefit from post-pandemic telehealth. 114 mental health practitioners who offered telehealth services to their customers were given permission to participate in the study. The information was gathered between January 2021 and April 2021 using a variety of survey questions on, among other things, practice settings, therapist demographics, and the shift to telehealth. The study’s findings identified the clientele groups most likely to continue utilizing telehealth after the public health crisis. Medicare recipients, those who identified with marginalized religious or spiritual identities, as well as young and older adults, are some of these clientele.The results imply that legislative measures that resulted in exemptions of limits and increased coverage of telehealth services were advantageous to older people and those with Medicare coverage. People who identify with socially stigmatized groups were found to be more inclined to seek counseling online due to the safety of the environment. However, additional research indicates that therapists were less likely to continue utilizing telemedicine if they had a greater percentage of Medicaid-insured clients, couples and families on their caseloads, or clients from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

The researchers claim that this study highlights possible barriers to telehealth access for underserved populations, such as technological limitations, an absence of private spaces, and privacy concerns. These problems highlight the necessity of structural changes, such gaining access to adequate housing, broadband services, and childcare. The researchers contend that these barriers must be addressed in order to limit disparities before the healthcare industry continues its use.

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