Telehealth usage occurred mostly in urban, wealthy areas, study says
Affluent urban areas saw the biggest uptick in telehealth usage over the past year, according to a new study from RAND.
Why it matters: Experts have hailed telemedicine, in part, for its potential to help rural patients who would have to travel long distances for an in-person appointment. But the study suggests that telehealth hasn't closed the rural-urban access gap even as its overall use has soared.
By the numbers: Metropolitan areas had about 50 telemedicine visits per 10,000 people, compared to about 31 visits per 10,000 people in rural areas, according to the study.
- Patients in counties with low poverty levels had about 48 telehealth visits per 10,000 people versus 15 per 10,000 people in high-poverty areas.
- The findings were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, based on an analysis of more than 6 million insurance claims from employer-based plans.