Will telehealth help eliminate health inequalities? | Technology
A key aspect of TeleHealth is its ability to increase access to telehealth security, especially to alleviate health access inequalities for the poor and rural population.
But did this happen? Did TeleHealth achieve what we expected? Researchers at Boston University’s Questram School of Business, School of Medicine and the Boston Medical Center (PMC) say telehealth is a complex answer, branding it a “double-edged sword.”
The uncertain role of telehealth plays a major role in mitigating health inequalities involving the “digital sector”. In particular, researchers identify a type of “digital redlining” taking place in TeleHealth, where TeleHealth, despite its potential to break barriers, inevitably becomes a barrier to access to care, further perpetuating maintenance inequality.
In the latest paper published in Journal of General Internal Medicine, Researchers outline data about their own experiences with patients and their patients’ access to health care. The data suggest two additional challenges to the role of telehealth equilibrium: a patient’s digital literacy, or fluency, and a patient’s ability for themselves. Basically, the researchers concluded that telehealth itself was not enough. Without a strong infrastructure to support patients in using telehealth services, the telehealth could become just another code in the machine and further perpetuate access inequality.
In response to these challenges, researchers are outlining a framework for mitigating some of the shortcomings of telehealth. In particular, researchers suggest that policymakers may begin to invest in healthy literacy education, digital literacy education, and patient self-advocacy.