HumanInsight Telehealth and the Digital Divide: Identifying Potential Care Gaps in Video Visit Use
J Med Syst. 2022 Jul 30;46(9):58. doi: 10.1007/s10916-022-01843-x.
In recent years, telehealth visits have surged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, existing structural inequities impact the access and use of information technology based on social and geographical characteristics, which is referred to as the digital divide. This has created disparities between patients with access to video visits vs. telephone visits. Previous telehealth research has focused on the completion of video visits. However, further research is needed to understand patients who decline video visits and rely on phone visits. We conducted semi-structured interviews (n = 13) of older patients (n = 9) and clinical support staff (n = 4) to understand the barriers in accessing virtual care. Most patients reported feeling left behind with telehealth, despite having access to a computer or smartphone. Clinical staff identified access to reliable technology and the ability for patients to navigate the technology as primary barriers to accessing virtual care. Many patients indicated an interest in video visits, but wanted low tech solutions and at-the-elbow support to build confidence with the technology.
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