Disparities in Telemedicine Use for Subspecialty Diabetes Care During COVID-19 Shelter-In-Place Orders

Sarah C. Haynes, Tejaswi Kompala, Aaron Neinstein, Jennifer Rosenthal, Stephanie Crossen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine use rapidly and dramatically increased for management of diabetes mellitus. It is unknown whether access to telemedicine care has been equitable during this time. This study aimed to identify patient-level factors associated with adoption of telemedicine for subspecialty diabetes care during the pandemic. Methods: We conducted an explanatory sequential mixed-methods study using data from a single academic medical center. We used multivariate logistic regression to explore associations between telemedicine use and demographic factors for patients receiving subspecialty diabetes care between March 19 and June 30, 2020. We then surveyed a sample of patients who received in-person care to understand why these patients did not use telemedicine. Results: Among 1292 patients who received subspecialty diabetes care during the study period, those over age 65 were less likely to use telemedicine (OR: 0.34, 95% CI: 0.22-0.52, P <.001), as were patients with a primary language other than English (OR: 0.53, 95% CI: 0.31-0.91, P =.02), and patients with public insurance (OR: 0.64, 95% CI: 0.49-0.84, P =.001). Perceived quality of care and technological barriers were the most common reasons cited for choosing in-person care during the pandemic. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been disparities in telemedicine use by age, language, and insurance for patients with diabetes mellitus. We anticipate telemedicine will continue to be an important care modality for chronic conditions in the years ahead. Significant work must therefore be done to ensure that telemedicine services do not introduce or widen population health disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Diabetes Science and Technology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • diabetes mellitus
  • health disparities
  • telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering

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