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Telehealth Used More Often by Black Surgical Patients in 2020

In 2020, a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons looked at patients who sought Surgical consultations in person and via telemedicine. Researchers discovered that Latinx patients were considerably less likely to have video telemedicine appointments compared to audio-only encounters between March 24 and June 23. Black patients were also more likely to have virtual Surgical consultations between June 24 and December 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic radically altered the healthcare delivery landscape and drastically altered how patients obtain healthcare. Digital literacy, technological access, and the ability to connect successfully with physicians via virtual platforms have all become important social determinants of health. Advocates and legislators have emphasised the necessity of making telehealth available to people who need it, particularly those from historically underrepresented groups.

White patients made up the majority of both video and audio-only visits during the initial phase of the pandemic in 2020, which researchers dubbed “Phase I.” Patients of colour accounted for 8.8% and 10.2% of video and audio-only visits, respectively, while Latinx patients accounted for 8.8% and 16.1%, respectively. Women were also more likely than men to receive a virtual visit. During this time period, however, researchers found no significant link between race or ethnicity and visit mode.

Overall, Black patients were more likely than white patients to have virtual appointments, with women being more likely than males to seek Surgical consultations via telemedicine. During this time period, older patients, patients with lower education levels, and patients whose first language was not English were likewise less likely to use video streaming during virtual encounters. The decline in video visits among those categories may represent the barriers to telemedicine access for many already disadvantaged groups, according to the researchers.

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