Centering Health Equity in Telemedicine

Ann Fam Med. 2022 Jul-Aug;20(4):362-367. doi: 10.1370/afm.2823.


In the wake of the racial injustices laid bare in 2020, on top of centuries of systemic racism, it is clear we need actionable strategies to fundamentally restructure health care systems to achieve racial/ethnic health equity. This paper outlines the pillars of a health equity framework from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, overlaying a concrete example of telemedicine equity. Telemedicine is a particularly relevant and important topic, given the growing evidence of disparities in uptake by racial/ethnic, linguistic, and socioeconomic groups in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the new standard of care that telemedicine represents post-pandemic. We present approaches for telemedicine equity across the domains of: (1) strategic priorities of a health care organization, (2) structures and processes to advance equity, (3) strategies to address multiple determinants of health, (4) elimination of institutional racism and oppression, and (5) meaningful partnerships with patients and communities.

Keywords: health equity; health systems; patient-engagement; primary care; race/ethnicity; systemic racism; telemedicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Health Equity*
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Racism*
  • Telemedicine*
  • United States