Article Test

Home  >  Medical Research Archives  >  Issue 149  > Racial Disparities in Telemedicine Uptake during the COVID-19 Pandemic among Patients with Hematologic Malignancies in the United States
Published in the Medical Research Archives
Feb 2024 Issue

Racial Disparities in Telemedicine Uptake during the COVID-19 Pandemic among Patients with Hematologic Malignancies in the United States

Published on Feb 28, 2024




Background: The COVID-19 pandemic impacted healthcare visit trends, transitioning care to utilize telemedicine. We aimed to investigate if the uptake in telemedicine during pandemic was equitable across racial groups for patients with hematologic malignancies.

Methods: Using the nationwide Flatiron Health electronic health record (EHR)-derived de-identified database we analyzed patients with diagnosis of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), follicular lymphoma (FL), mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or multiple myeloma (MM). Patients were categorized into treatment types within lines of therapy: outpatient (oral therapy and outpatient infusions combined with oral therapy) vs. inpatient treatments (chemotherapy, cellular therapy). Monthly visit rates were calculated as the number of visits (telemedicine or in-person [in-clinic treatment administration, vitals, and/or labs]) per active patient per 30-day standardized month. We used time-series forecasting methods on pre-pandemic monthly visit rate data (March 2016 - February 2020) to estimate projected counterfactual monthly visit rates between March 2020 - February 2021.Telemedicine uptake was descriptively analyzed over time (t).

Results: We included 18,924 active patients (2,394 Black and 16,530 White) and 884,504 visits (117,673 Black and 766,831 White). 4,053 AML, 3,468 diffuse large B cell lymphoma, 1,943 follicular lymphoma, 2,151 mantle cell lymphoma, 5,926 chronic lymphocytic leukemia and 7,752 myeloma patients. Black patients had no significant reductions in in-person visit rates throughout the pandemic period compared to the projected rates. Conversely, White patients experienced an 18% (95% PI 9.9% - 25%) lower rate of in-person visits for outpatient therapy during the early pandemic (March - May 2020) (actual monthly visit rate 1.61; projected visit rate 2.0 [95% CI 1.8-2.2]). Telemedicine uptake was significantly higher for White patients compared with Black patients for all diseases and treatment categories between March 2020-February 2021 (t = 9.5, p < 0.01), AML inpatient (t = 2.4, p = 0.04), MM outpatient (Figure 3C) (t = 6.0, p < 0.01) and MM inpatient treatment categories (Figure 3D) (t = 2.3, p = 0.04). 

Conclusions: White patients had significantly higher telemedicine uptake compared with Black patients for all treatment categories. These findings challenge healthcare systems to direct efforts toward reducing the gap in healthcare access.

Author info

Natalia Neparidze, Krystal Lau, Xiaoliang Wang, Scott Huntington, Omer Jamy, Gregory Calip, Harsh Shah, Deborah Stephens, Rebecca Miksad, Ravi Parikh, Samuel Takvorian, Gaurav Goyal, Erlene Seymour

Have an article to submit?

Submission Guidelines

Submit a manuscript

Become a member

Call for papers

Have a manuscript to publish in the society's journal?