Measuring disparities in virtual healthcare and outcomes in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Journal of telemedicine and telecare


INTRODUCTION: The use of virtual healthcare increased with the COVID-19 pandemic, even among chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. We measured disparities in virtual compared to traditional healthcare and outcomes in COPD patients during the pandemic.

METHODS: This study retrospectively identified adult patients with virtual or in-person primary care encounters at a large, Midwestern hospital system between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2020. Data regarding age, sex, race, smoking, area deprivation index (ADI), COPD diagnosis, visit type (office, telephone, video, E-visit, virtual, or hybrid of office and virtual), and time to hospital admission in the following 12 months were collected. Analysis was performed using chi-square, analysis of variance, Kruskal-Wallis rank sum, and Cox proportional modeling.

RESULTS: This study identified 86,715 patients. Of those, 4702 had COPD and were more likely to be 65 years or older, White, have higher ADI, use telephone or hybrid visits compared to the rest of the study population and majority had smoking history. Office, telephone, and hybrid visits were used frequently, consistently seen across sex, race, ADI, and smoking categories. Increasing age was associated with increased use of office and telephone visits, and decreased use of video visits. Higher ADI was associated with telephone visits, and lower ADI was associated with video visits. There were no significant differences in overall, COPD, or COVID-19 hospital admission rates across visit types.

DISCUSSION: Complex disparities in utilizing traditional healthcare are also reflected in virtual healthcare in COPD patients, and do not significantly affect hospital admissions.

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ePub ahead of print

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