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Telehealth Disparity Seen in Cancer Care

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Black and Hispanic patients with cancer used telehealth less often than White patients during the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, according to a study presented at the ASCO Quality Care Symposium, held virtually from Oct. 9 to 10.

Cardinale B. Smith, M.D., Ph.D., and Aarti Sonia Bhardwaj, M.D., from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, evaluated the differences in telehealth use among minorities and nonminorities with cancer. Electronic medical record data were collected for cancer patients seen at a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center and eight associated ambulatory sites across New York City from March 1 to June 1, 2020.

The researchers identified 7,681 telehealth visits during the study period; 76 percent of these telehealth visits were video visits. For comparison, in 2019, <1 percent of all patient visits were conducted via telehealth. In 2019, the demographic breakdown for patients seen was 42 percent, White, 23 percent Black, 14 percent Hispanic, and 7 percent Asian. During the pandemic, for patients using video visits, 50 percent were White, 17 percent were Black, 8 percent were Asian, and 5 percent were Hispanic. For patients using phone-based telehealth, 43 percent were White, 23 percent were Black, 7 percent were Hispanic, and 6 percent were Asian.

"These findings are important as telehealth use will now become more integrated into standard oncologic care, and it is likely that we will have a second or third wave of COVID-19 infections," the authors write.

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Schedule10 Dec 2023