RAND report: telehealth expansion during pandemic occurred mostly in affluent and metropolitan areas

A new report by RAND Corporation revealed that increases in the use of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic has occurred mostly among those who are more affluent and those who live in metropolitan areas. Researchers raised concerns that the pandemic may be worsening existing disparities in overall healthcare utilisation. The lead author of the study Jonathan Cantor said given the findings, policymakers should consider increasing efforts to reach populations that are deferring in-office care and not replacing it with telehealth services. The study analysed insurance claims from more than 6 million people in the USA who had employer-based health insurance in 2019 and 2020. Researchers studied the number and types of medical care received by enrollees from January 2019 through July 2020. The increase in telemedicine use was greatest among patients in counties with low poverty levels and among patients in metropolitan areas.