Despite Increase in Telehealth Participation, Underserved Populations Use Telehealth Least

Despite a substantial increase in the overall use of telehealth services, underserved populations continue to use telehealth options least, according to a new study by the George Washington University Health Workforce Research Center. The paper, "Are State Telehealth Policies Associated with the Use of Telehealth Services Among Underserved Populations?" was published today in the December issue of the journal Health Affairs.

The researchers examined trends in telehealth participation from June 2013 through December 2016. They found the use of live video communication increased the fastest among telehealth options, from 6.6 percent in 2013 to 21.6 percent in 2016. The use of live video communication was most dominant among working age and higher income respondents and those who may have more difficulty leaving the home because of physical and mental limitations. While telehealth options are widely viewed as being important for increasing access to care for underserved populations, the researchers found that they were used least by Medicaid beneficiaries, those with an income less than $25,000 and rural communities.