Improving Use of Telemedicine in Minority Communities: Aarushi Suneja, MD; Zubair Ahmed, MD

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The duo from Cleveland Clinic discussed their presentation from AHS 2021 regarding the effects of COVID-19 on access to telemedicine visits among minorities.

"Some of the proposed hypotheses for this increased utilization probably includes the increasing perception for a larger COVID-19-related threat for these minority populations. As we know, there’s a large threat for hospitalization and adverse outcome in this subset population as well."

A retrospective review conducted by Aarushi Suneja, MD; Zubair Ahmed, MD; and colleagues evaluated the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the adoption and use of telemedicine by racial minorities seeking care at the Cleveland Clinic Headache Center. The results, presented at the 2021 American Headache Society (AHS) 63rd Scientific Annual Meeting, June 3-6, showed a slight increase in virtual visits by minority groups which continued after the COVID-19 surge when in-person visits resumed.

The authors concluded that telemedicine may reduce some of the barriers that traditionally affect black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) populations, including flexible scheduling, reduced financial barriers, and eliminating the need for childcare. The slight increase in visits by the minority group observed implied that teleneurology care was well received by this population and should be continued to be implemented for long-term access convenience.

Suneja, a headache fellow, and Ahmed, a neurologist, both of Cleveland Clinic, provided their perspective on the factors for why minority communities struggle with access to care, and how telemedicine provides a feasible solution to those in need.

REFERENCE
Suneja A, Baig A, Mays M, Kriegler J, Ahmed Z. Effects of COVID-19 on access to telemedicine visits at the Cleveland Clinic, a tertiary headache clinic. Presented at AHS 2021 Scientific Annual Meeting; June 3-6.