Can telehealth address gaps in trust in the healthcare system?

Can telehealth address gaps in trust in the healthcare system?

Aside from closing the digital divide, how can telehealth address gaps in equity and healthcare quality to improve trust among vulnerable populations?

I’m proud to serve as Research Director of the Telehealth Equity Coalition (TEC). In this role, I find data relevant to a theme being highlighted by the coalition.  I analyzed the data and highlight important findings in a story that is published by the Coalition.   

TEC  just published my third data story which focuses on trust in the healthcare system.  

People who are poor, are racial and ethnic minorities and have no insurance or Medicaid are most likely to rate their care quality lower than others.  These same groups are also likely to say that their health care providers sometimes or never respected them, listened carefully, spent enough time with them or explained things clearly.  Such factors were strongly linked with how people rated their healthcare quality. 



Chart shows lack of healthcare quality equity for disadvantaged patients
The story then describes ways that telehealth could improve trust and care quality.  Some of the suggested ways include:   
  • Enabling people to choose from a broad group of providers.  Those preferring providers who may share their lived experiences should be able to find them.
  • Managerial oversite of the interactions should identify situations where patients are receive discriminatory treatment or encounter disrespect.  Individual and systematic training should be undertaken to address gaps.
  • Standardized procedures can be implemented to ensure that all patients receive the care they need.  And patients should get access to a recording of the encounter to reinforce the session’s content.
  • Offering a variety of modalities should enable patients to select ones best suited to their needs.  For example, a patient who has questions that might be highly personal or embarrassing might prefer a text-based encounter.  

Data from the National Cancer Institute‘s Health Information National Trends Survey and the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report power this particular story.

Data visualizations that are created on the National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved (NHITC)’s Data Fusion Center are featured.

The Data Fusion Center offers hundreds of datasets pertaining to telehealth equity.  Join the Telehealth Equity Coalition for access to the Data Fusion Center. Membership is free!

Telehealth: Bridging the Trust Divide (