Telemedicine may enhance surgical care for historically undervalued patient groups

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way patients access medical care. Previous studies have revealed inequality in the use of telemedicine in the spring of 2020, but there is little analysis of other aspects of the use of telemedicine during a pandemic, especially among surgical patients. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital analyzed electronic health records of new patients seeking medical attention within the hospital’s general gastrointestinal surgery department from March to December 2020. Journal of American Universities of SurgeonsMay reveal increasing use of telemedicine among historically underrated patient groups and inform future efforts to improve access to telemedicine ..

“Can be used Digital health “To reach people who have never had optimal access to our healthcare system,” said Dr. Getzer Ortega, MD, Ph.D., Corresponding Author of Brigham and Surgery and Public Health. “In the last decade, smartphone use has increased significantly. In the United States. We are doing our best to meet patients wherever they are. Digital tools When used responsibly, it may help fill that gap. “

The study involves two phases, one of which spans the Massachusetts Public Health Emergency (March 24-23, 2020), where the state issues home advisories and selective surgery. Was interrupted.During this period, Brigam developed an initiative to increase. Telemedicine access. This includes enrolling patients in patient portal systems from resource-poor communities, popularizing internet-enabled devices, and integrating video conferencing platforms into electronic health records. During Phase 2 of the study (June 24-December 31, 2020), Massachusetts issued resumption guidelines authorizing the resumption of non-essential selective surgery.

In particular, in Phase 2 of the study, black patients made more use of telemedicine. Caucasian patient Even if face-to-face consultations increase.Hispanic / Latin American patients received more voice-only consultation than other patients Ethnic group It is Phase I of the investigation, but not Phase 2. This may reflect an increase in digital access or literacy. Nevertheless, the video usage gap persisted, making older patients, less educated patients, and non-English first-language patients less likely to use video during Phase 2 virtual visits. Telemedicine than men.

The authors of the study state that their findings reflect only the use of telemedicine within one surgical department. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people do not want or cannot seek medical care and are therefore excluded from research studies. In addition, hospital patient population demographics similar to Massachusetts demographics limit the generalization of these results, with racial and ethnic minorities, uninsured patients, and non-English speaking proportions. Needs additional research within a high population.

In the future, researchers hope to continue to promote access to telemedicine by reducing the language barrier embedded in digital. health Platforms provide better resources to help patients navigate these platforms and improve physician comfort to digital systems, especially in situations where patients have voice-only access.

“There is a digital divide in the United States, and there is a disparity in access to technology among resource-poor people, races and ethnic groups, the elderly, and so on,” Ortega said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed us regardless of whether we want to use digital technology. The learning curve was steep, but this technology was adopted and became part of the arsenal of resources. I think it can be used to care for patients. By doing so, we need to optimize these technologies so that they can be delivered fairly. ”

Telemedicine in COVID-19: Video-to-Telephone Visits and Digital Divide

For more information:
Eruchalu, Chukwuma N et al, COVID-19 Demographic disparities in the use of telemedicine for outpatient general surgery consultations during a pandemic: analysis of early public health emergencies and second phase periods, Journal of American Universities of Surgeons (2022). DOI: 10.1097 / XCS.0000000000000030

Quote: Telemedicine is a historically underrated patient obtained from on January 14, 2022. May strengthen surgical care for the group (January 14, 2022)

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Telemedicine may enhance surgical care for historically undervalued patient groups

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