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Telemedicine: Disparities in Access and Quality (TDAQ)

Telemedicine consultation with doctor on computer screen and patient in speaking to doctor. Photo by kamleshverm, courtesy of Pixabay.com.

About

The Telemedicine: Disparities in Access and Quality (TDAQ) study is comprised of a series of analyses seeking to determine the impact of the rapid transition to telemedicine in the wake of COVID-19 on Medicaid beneficiaries in Louisiana. TDAQ is led by a team of Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine researchers who has been awarded a $120,000 from the Commonwealth Fund to conduct the analyses.

In response to the pandemic shutdowns and deferral of elective medical procedures and other appointments, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services eased regulations on the use of telemedicine, or the remote delivery of healthcare services using telecommunications, for Medicare beneficiaries, with additional guidance for state Medicaid and CHIP programs to ensure access to necessary care.

The Problem

In Louisiana and throughout the U.S., telemedicine was not widespread among Medicaid beneficiaries and other vulnerable patient populations prior to the pandemic. Barriers included a lack of appropriate technology, unreliable or unavailable internet coverage, and poor digital literacy. Preliminary data suggests that there are even further disparities in the use of telemedicine by race and ethnicity as well as age.

A Solution

Faculty members in the Department of Health Policy and Management, comprised of principal investigator Dr. Brigham Walker and co-investigators Dr. Kevin Callison, Dr. Andrew Anderson, and Dr. Thomas LaVeist will conduct a series of analyses using Medicaid claims data maintained by the department in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Health. The data are refreshed monthly, giving the researchers a near real-time picture of service utilization for the state’s Medicaid population.

The team’s goal is to estimate the effect of COVID-19 on the use of telemedicine services and on disparities in utilization for Medicaid beneficiaries. They will also study the effect of COVID-19 on care quality for the Medicaid population using performance measures commonly used in quality improvement and payment programs.

TDAQ News

How has telemedicine impacted healthcare disparities for Medicaid beneficiaries?
A team of researchers at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine has been awarded a $120,000 from the Commonwealth Fund to conduct a series of studies to determine. Keep reading this story>>