It’s no secret that disparities exist between the accessibility and quality of care afforded to various economic and racial groups in the United States. We don’t need to look any further than the COVID-19 pandemic for evidence of that, as immunization and testing rates have generally been lower among people of color compared with white individuals. Paradoxically, the pandemic may provide the impetus for positive change in healthcare inequities, as well as a new opportunity for telemedicine to make inroads. University of Pennsylvania researchers have found that increased use of telemedicine from 2019 through 2021 helped eliminate a gap in appointment “show rates” between black and white patients in five Penn Medicine hospitals in Philadelphia, according to a report from the public broadcasting and media organization WHYY. While appointment completion rates did not change much for white patients utilizing telemedicine instead of in-person primary care (68% and 67% over the 2-year study period), black patients’ completion rate improved from 52% to 70% over the same expanse. The researchers conjectured that it all boils down to accessibility, both in terms of physical proximity to a care provider and expanded hours of operation compared with a brick-and-mortar practice. While primary care was the focus of this study, JUCM has addressed the issue of racial inequities in urgent care. You can read The Challenge of Inequity in Urgent Care Medicine: A Call to Action in our archive right now.

We Know Racial Inequities Exist in Urgent Care. Can Telemedicine Be Part of the Solution?