Access to Care Matters: Remote Health Care Needs During COVID-19

Telemed J E Health. 2021 Apr;27(4):468-471. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2020.0371. Epub 2020 Sep 30.


Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is straining health care worldwide with >31 million confirmed cases. Currently, 1 in every 100 U.S. residents and 245,000 in New York City are confirmed positive. The Bronx, with high-risk comorbidities, due in part to socioeconomic factors, has seen disproportionately higher rates of COVID-19-related complications. Poor health care access is exacerbated as in-person visits now pose viral transmission risk. There has been limited discourse regarding widespread disparities underlying transitions to telemedicine. Methods: We review perspectives in recent literature on telemedicine and its potential within neurology. Results: While telemedicine has reduced strain on in-person visits, preliminary reflections highlight implementation successes and challenges. Conclusions: To provide effective care beyond this crisis, fundamental changes in training, technological accessibility, and health care policy are needed. We propose open access to telehealth training, screening of patient's potential technological inequities and socioeconomic insecurities, and advocacy to secure broad long-term access to telehealth care.

Keywords: diversity; equity; health disparities; health policy; inclusion; medical ethics; structural and social determinants of health; telehealth; telemedicine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • New York City
  • Pandemics
  • Telemedicine*