The Fund supports several networks of state health policymakers to help identify, inspire, and inform policy leaders.
The Milbank Memorial Fund supports two state leadership programs for legislative and executive branch state government officials committed to improving population health.
The Fund identifies and shares policy ideas and analysis on topics important to state health policymakers, particularly on issues related to state leadership, primary care, aging, and health care costs.
Keep up with news and updates from the Milbank Memorial Fund. And read the latest blogs from our thought leaders, including Fund President Christopher F. Koller.
The Fund publishes The Milbank Quarterly, as well as reports, issues briefs, and case studies on topics important to health policy leaders.
The Milbank Memorial Fund is an endowed operating foundation that publishes The Milbank Quarterly, commissions projects, and convenes state health policy decision makers on issues they identify as important to population health.
June 2, 2021
Early View Original Scholarship COVID-19
Ji E. Chang
Alden Yuanhong Lai
Ann M. Nguyen
Carolyn A. Berry
Donna R. Shelley
Back to The Milbank Quarterly
Context: The COVID-19 pandemic has catalyzed fundamental shifts across the US health care delivery system, including a rapid transition to telehealth. Telehealth has many potential advantages, including maintaining critical access to care while keeping both patients and providers safe from unnecessary exposure to the coronavirus. However, not all health care providers and patients are equally ready to take part in this digital revolution, which raises concerns for health equity during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods: The study analyzed data about small primary care practices’ telehealth use and barriers to telehealth use collected from rapid-response surveys administered by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Bureau of Equitable Health Systems and New York University from mid-April through mid-June 2020 as part of the city’s efforts to understand how primary care practices were responding to the COVID-19 pandemic following New York State’s stay-at-home order on March 22. We focused on small primary care practices because they represent 40% of primary care providers and are disproportionately located in low-income, minority or immigrant areas that were more severely impacted by COVID-19. To examine whether telehealth use and barriers differed based on the socioeconomic characteristics of the communities served by these practices, we used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) to stratify respondents as being in high-SVI or low-SVI areas. We then characterized respondents’ telehealth use and barriers to adoption by using means and proportions with 95% confidence intervals. In addition to a primary analysis using pooled data across the five waves of the survey, we performed sensitivity analyses using data from respondents who only took one survey, first wave only, and the last two waves only.
Findings: While all providers rapidly shifted to telehealth, there were differences based on community characteristics in both the primary mode of telehealth used and the types of barriers experienced by providers. Providers in high-SVI areas were almost twice as likely as providers in low-SVI areas to use telephones as their primary telehealth modality (41.7% vs 23.8%; P <.001). The opposite was true for video, which was used as the primary telehealth modality by 18.7% of providers in high-SVI areas and 33.7% of providers in low-SVI areas (P <0.001). Providers in high-SVI areas also faced more patient related barriers and fewer provider-related barriers than those in low-SVI areas.
Conclusions: Between April and June 2020, telehealth became a prominent mode of primary care delivery in New York City. However, the transition to telehealth did not unfold in the same manner across communities. To ensure greater telehealth equity, policy changes should address barriers faced overwhelmingly by marginalized patient populations and those who serve them.
Keywords: Telehealth, telemedicine, health equity.
Apr 6, 2021
Mar 30, 2021
Get the Latest from the Milbank Memorial Fund
The Milbank Quarterly’s multidisciplinary approach and commitment to applying the best empirical research to practical policymaking offers in-depth assessments of the social, economic, political, historical, legal, and ethical dimensions of health and health care policy.