ICYMI: New Study Underscores How Virtual Care is Vital to Promoting Greater Health Equity

Mar 27, 2024

 Researchers Find Historically Underserved Communities Embracing Telehealth, Higher Rates of Utilization Among Black and Hispanic Medicare Beneficiaries

In case you missed it, a recent study published in JAMA Health Forum underscores the critical value of telehealth as a tool to break down historically persistent barriers to care in underserved communities and promote greater health equity.

The study from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard, the RAND Corporation, and others analyzed total telehealth visits for more than 14 million individuals enrolled in Medicare from March 2020 to February 2022. Researchers found that nationally, Black individuals, Hispanic individuals, and individuals of other racial groups had more telemedicine visits during the pandemic than White individuals and lived in geographic regions with higher-than-average telemedicine use.

Another JAMA study found that during a 20-year period, Black and Hispanic/Latino individuals were more likely than White individuals to experience barriers in accessing timely medical care, citing long waiting times, inconvenient office hours, and lack of transportation as obstacles to getting the care they need.

Telehealth helps eliminate these barriers, allowing patients from underserved communities to access care when and where it is convenient. Telehealth also provides greater access to specialty-level care, regardless of a patient’s geographic location. 

As the researchers wrote, “Our study results implied that telemedicine visit rates are higher among many individuals of racial and ethnic minority groups primarily because they are more likely to live in communities that have embraced telemedicine.”

The full promise of telehealth to break down barriers to care and improve health equity is at risk if Congress does not act before the end of the year to permanently protect access to virtual care for Medicare beneficiaries, without onerous restrictions.

Read the full study HERE and learn more about how Congress can act to permanently protect telehealth access HERE.


Telehealth Access for America (TAFA) is a public education campaign supported by leaders in health care committed to better care, expanded patient choice, and protecting access to critical telehealth services. Learn more and take action today at www.telehealthaccessforamerica.org.