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.
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.