Differences in access to virtual and in-person primary care by race/ethnicity and community social vulnerability among adults diagnosed with COVID-19 in a large, multi-state health system.
BMC health services research [electronic resource]
oregon; portland; core; diversity/inclusion; covid-19; Adult; COVID-19; COVID-19 Testing; Cross-Sectional Studies; Ethnicity; Humans; Pandemics; Primary Health Care; Social Vulnerability
BACKGROUND: Research exploring telehealth expansion during the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that groups disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 also experience worse access to telehealth. However, this research has been cross-sectional or short in duration; geographically limited; has not accounted for pre-existing access disparities; and has not examined COVID-19 patients. We examined virtual primary care use by race/ethnicity and community social vulnerability among adults diagnosed with COVID-19 in a large, multi-state health system. We also assessed use of in-person primary care to understand whether disparities in virtual access may have been offset by improved in-person access.
METHODS: Using a cohort design, electronic health records, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Social Vulnerability Index, we compared changes in virtual and in-person primary care use by race/ethnicity and community social vulnerability in the year before and after COVID-19 diagnosis. Our study population included 11,326 adult patients diagnosed with COVID-19 between March and July 2020. We estimated logistic regression models to examine likelihood of primary care use. In all regression models we computed robust standard errors; in adjusted models we controlled for demographic and health characteristics of patients.
RESULTS: In a patient population of primarily Hispanic/Latino and non-Hispanic White individuals, and in which over half lived in socially vulnerable areas, likelihood of virtual primary care use increased from the year before to the year after COVID-19 diagnosis (3.6 to 10.3%); while in-person use remained stable (21.0 to 20.7%). In unadjusted and adjusted regression models, compared with White patients, Hispanic/Latino and other race/ethnicity patients were significantly less likely to use virtual care before and after COVID-19 diagnosis; Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and other race/ethnicity patients, and patients living in socially vulnerable areas were also significantly less likely to use in-person care during these time periods.
CONCLUSIONS: Newly expanded virtual primary care has not equitably benefited individuals from racialized groups diagnosed with COVID-19, and virtual access disparities have not been offset by improved in-person access. Health systems should employ evidence-based strategies to equitably provide care, including representative provider networks; targeted, empowering outreach; co-developed culturally and linguistically appropriate tools and technologies; and provision of enabling resources and services.
Govier, Diana J; Cohen-Cline, Hannah; Marsi, Katherine; and Roth, Sarah E, "Differences in access to virtual and in-person primary care by race/ethnicity and community social vulnerability among adults diagnosed with COVID-19 in a large, multi-state health system." (2022). Articles, Abstracts, and Reports. 6033.