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Telehealth has existed in various forms for decades, and more recently, has been a boon to both health care providers and patients amid the coronavirus pandemic. Telehealth and telemedicine exploded to fill a health care vacuum left in the wake of lockdowns, social distancing measures, and new variants that have overwhelmed the United States’ physical health care infrastructure.

According to a 2021 Health and Human Services report, the number of telehealth visits among Medicare beneficiaries in 2020 was about 63 times higher than in 2019. In real numbers, that’s 840,000 visits in 2019 and 52.7 million visits conducted remotely roughly one year later.

Despite having been around for decades, the data-driven impacts of telehealth on every subgroup of society are still emerging. Health care and telehealth industry leaders are conducting small-scale studies around the country, analyzing the impact of telehealth as a pandemic response and tool for the future. Directionally, their results paint a picture of telemedicine’s irreplicable value. Telemedicine is transforming health care for some groups more than others.

The efficacy of telehealth can be defined and refined by the people it serves. Before — and now exacerbated by — the pandemic, health care inequalities existed predominantly among people of color. But, according to a 2021 AARP study, telehealth adoption rates have been highest in many of these same communities, suggesting that remote consultation is one way to remove certain health care disparities and access barriers like transportation, time off from work, and mobility.

Members of the LGBTQ + community have also been more likely — by 25% – to utilize telehealth for mental health services compared to non-LGTBQ + peers since the start of the pandemic. This is largely due to the fact that LGBTQ + users have experienced disproportionately higher rates of mental health challenges since the pandemic began.

Right now, in its nascent, formative stages, telehealth should also be defined by the groups it does not serve. According to the FCC, 6% of the total US population — roughly 19 million people — live without access to the minimum fixed broadband speeds, an essential tool for utilizing telehealth services. Rural and tribal communities are disproportionately affected, with one quarter and one-third of those populations lacking access, respectively.

With pandemic-related emergency restrictions being removed in health care facilities across the country, the future of telehealth and its staying power among providers and patients is in question. In addition, debates around payment parity may also mean that cost-saving is no longer a benefit of telehealth, particularly for populations that use and need it most. Women from various backgrounds fall into this category.

Citing statistics collected from its own 1,000-person study and research from other organizations, including the CDC, Kaiser Family Foundation, and American Medical Association, CirrusMD compiled seven statistics on how telemedicine impacts women’s health care.


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