New report investigates how telehealth can reduce healthcare disparities in the treatment of Black Americans
LONDON, Dec. 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Clarivate Plc (NYSE: CLVT), a global leader in providing trusted information and insights to accelerate the pace of innovation, today announced the release of a new report, entitled Realizing telehealth’s potential to reduce healthcare disparities: How healthcare stakeholders can utilize technology to remedy inequities in the treatment of Black Americans. The new report centers on telehealth’s role in addressing healthcare inequities in the United States and the most difficult challenges and potential solutions, examining how policymakers, providers and advocates are addressing these challenges to increase access to healthcare, specifically among Black Americans. The report finds while telehealth could close gaps in care and ease disparities, providers face challenges in using telehealth to address inequities, from locking in the necessary reimbursement structures to ensuring they can bridge gaps and reach patients.
As a member of the CEO Action for Racial Equality coalition, Clarivate has released this year’s report as part of its commitment to provide researchers, policy makers and healthcare providers with critical data and insights to inform the creation of scalable and sustainable policy solutions and catalyze corporate engagement in the areas of education, healthcare, economic empowerment and public safety. The report features unique data and insights gleaned from Clarivate research products including: Taking The PulseTM and Cybercitizen HealthTM, Web of ScienceTM, Healthcare Business InsightsTM, and Market Access intelligence. The in-depth analysis on the potential of telehealth in reducing health disparities in the United States.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, telehealth can provide access to critical healthcare services while keeping vulnerable patients out of clinics and hospitals. While the pandemic accelerated the digital transformation of healthcare, steps must be taken to ensure equitable access for Black Americans. Black communities have disproportionately faced barriers to address healthcare. There is an opportunity to build equity into the federal telehealth expansion policies established during COVID, improving Black communities’ access to healthcare and combat existing disparities.
Telehealth’s role in addressing healthcare inequities in the United States
Longstanding inequities in access to healthcare amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated poor outcomes…and depression. These populations often face an array of barriers to positive health. In addition, access to broadband technology and telehealth-enabling devices in the black community can be an issue for older patients who may not own telehealth-enabling devices or potentially require assistance using them to connect with healthcare providers.1
Even with continued support from policymakers, steps can be taken to ensure access to patients for whom sociodemographic factors, living arrangements or internet skills and experience impede use. To support better health outcomes, policymakers and regulators can extend or make permanent policies allowing for uniformity in reimbursement of telehealth services with in-person services, including audio-only visits and consultations with out-of-state providers. Regulators can examine liberalizing or vacating requirements that patients meet with a healthcare professional in-person before qualifying for teleconsults.2 Also, additional investment in expanding broadband infrastructure to underserved communities and the exploration of ways to get A/V-capable devices such as smartphones and tablets to patients who lack them could affect positive change.
The use of telehealth has soared since the advent of COVID-19. At the pandemic’s outset, in the spring of 2020, 21% of U.S. physicians reported having used virtual consults to treat patients in the previous three months – up from single digits in 2019. By summer 2020, after the initial wave of infections, that figure had climbed to 80%, softening only slightly to 65% by spring 2021.3 U.S. patients anticipate more in-person visits and fewer virtual consults once pandemic mitigation measures are rendered unnecessary, but telehealth is expected to remain a part of routine care, particularly for checkups, prescription renewals and side effect management. Forty percent of all Americans agree that they will continue to use virtual consults for most follow ups – as do 44% of Black Americans.4
Providers can invest in building out their telehealth capabilities through partnerships with third-party platforms or internal development of their own systems. Comprehensive training can be offered to staff in conducting consultations via telehealth and helping their patients navigate telehealth platforms, along with cultural competency training to improve trust and communication with patients from underserved communities. In a recent survey, healthcare leaders were asked to identify the areas most in need of improvement within telehealth provision. Virtual care delivery best practices was the most-cited, followed by patient experience and satisfaction and patient-provider communication.5 Providers can also partner with local and national community groups, patient advocacy organizations and other healthcare industry stakeholders to establish trust and credibility within minority communities, including Black communities among other actions.
Life science companies can raise awareness of these digital resources among clinicians through rep details, digital assets (i.e., websites and apps), and promotional content. In addition, investing further analysis of the social determinants of health impacting Black and other minority patients using their products and incorporating guidance and solutions into patient support resources and consumer-facing digital assets could help to alleviate some of the barriers faced by these communities.
Mike Ward, Global Head of Life Sciences and Healthcare Thought Leadership, Clarivate: “While the relaxation of state and federal restrictions on telehealth reimbursement have fueled telehealth adoption, it remains to be seen whether these measures will last beyond the Public Health Emergency. Telehealth offers a means of extending access to care to individuals who may face multiple barriers. Life science companies have an opportunity to explore packaging digital information and resources for patients in ways that make them easy for healthcare professionals to share with their patients and ultimately enable better and more impactful care.”
Gbenga Ogedegbe, M.D., professor of medicine and population health at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and director of the Institute for Excellence in Health Equity at NYU Langone: “The silver lining is that the pandemic allowed us to reimagine healthcare in those four-to-six months of the pandemic, and there was evidence that technology actually can allow us to bridge the gap in care when there is access.”
Denise White Perkins, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Healthcare Equality Initiatives and Vice Chair of Academic Affairs for the Department of Family Medicine, Henry Ford Health System: “The pandemic really highlighted the inequities that we have, both in the broader society and in healthcare delivery. When we converted the majority of our visits to virtual care at the start of the pandemic, it became immediately obvious that there were certain segments of the population we were serving that did not have equal access, whether that was knowing how to use the technology or the more upstream issues of having broadband access in their neighborhoods.”
The report offers in-depth analysis of telehealth’s potential as a partial solution to longstanding racial inequities in healthcare provision, and how stakeholders throughout the healthcare ecosystem, from providers, insurers, drug and device makers to regulators and policymakers, can encourage its adoption.
To learn more about the special report, Realizing telehealth’s potential to reduce healthcare disparities: How healthcare stakeholders can utilize technology to remedy inequities in the treatment of Black Americans, visit here.
Clarivate™ is a global leader in providing solutions to accelerate the lifecycle of innovation. Our bold mission is to help customers solve some of the world’s most complex problems by providing actionable information and insights that reduce the time from new ideas to life-changing inventions in the areas of science and intellectual property. We help customers discover, protect and commercialize their inventions using our trusted subscription and technology-based solutions coupled with deep domain expertise. For more information, please visit clarivate.com.
Director, External Communications, Life Sciences & Healthcare
1 Source: Healthcare Business Insights, 2021. 2021 Trends Analysis: HBI State of the Industry, Milwaukee: Clarivate.
2 Source: Market Access Intelligence. Clarivate. 2021
3 Source: Taking the Pulse U.S. 2021. Clarivate. June 2021
4 Source: Cybercitizen Health U.S. 2021. Clarivate. July 2021
5 Source: Healthcare Business Insights, 2021. 2021 Trends Analysis: HBI State of the Industry, Milwaukee: Clarivate.
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