ICYMI: New Study Underscores Telehealth As A Vital Health Equity Bridge

Feb 21, 2023

Report Finds Patients in Underserved Communities Who Accessed Care Had High Rates of Telehealth Utilization

In case you missed it, a recent study from Alcohol Research Group (ARG) and RTI International published in Preventive Medicine found telehealth utilization can act as a bridge for traditionally underserved groups, including Latinx/Hispanic and lower-income patients, to increase access to much-needed care.

The study, which analyzed data from the 2019-2020 U.S. National Alcohol Survey and a COVID follow-up survey, found that 37 percent of respondents wanted behavioral health care, but did not receive it, and 48 percent of respondents postponed care due to pandemic-related, in-person restrictions, such as office closures, lockdowns, and fear. Many respondents also cited cost as a barrier to getting care.

Almost all (98 percent) of the Latinx/Hispanic patients who received behavioral health care during the first year of the pandemic were treated via telehealth. This increased utilization underscores the important role telehealth can play in breaking down traditional barriers to care for underserved communities and improving health equity.

Nina Mulia, the study’s lead author emphasized the need for permanent telehealth protections, saying, “Our findings underscore the need to identify which policies helped most in expanding telehealth to groups who typically don’t have good access to healthcare and to work to make these policies permanent.”

Congress must safeguard access to essential virtual care services and protect this vital bridge to health equity by passing permanent telehealth protections.

Read the Public Health Institute’s press release on the study HERE and view the full study in Preventive Medicine HERE

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.