Trends in the Utilization of Teleneurology and Other Healthcare Resources Prior to and During the COVID-19 Pandemic in an Urban, Tertiary Health System

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Abstract

Background: Patient groups traditionally affected by health disparities were less likely to use video teleneurology (TN) care during the initial COVID-19 pandemic surge in the United States. Whether this asymmetry persisted later in the pandemic or was accompanied with a loss of access to care remains unknown. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study using patient data from a multicenter healthcare system in New York City. We identified all established pediatric or adult neurology patients with at least two prior outpatient visits between June 16th, 2019 and March 15th, 2020 using our electronic medical record. For this established pre-COVID cohort, we identified telephone, in-person, video TN or emergency department visits and hospital admissions for any cause between March 16th and December 15th, 2020 (“COVID period”). We determined clinical, sociodemographic, income, and visit characteristics. Our primary outcome was video TN utilization, and our main secondary outcome was loss to follow-up during the COVID period. We used multivariable logistic regression to model the relationship between patient-level characteristics and both outcomes. Results: We identified 23,714 unique visits during the COVID period, which corresponded to 14,170 established patients from our institutional Neurology clinics during the pre-COVID period. In our cohort, 4,944 (34.9%) utilized TN and 4,997 (35.3%) were entirely lost to follow-up during the COVID period. In the adjusted regression analysis, Black or African-American race [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 0.60, 97.5%CI 0.52–0.70], non-English preferred language (aOR 0.49, 97.5%CI 0.39–0.61), Medicaid insurance (aOR 0.50, 97.5%CI 0.44–0.57), and Medicare insurance (aOR 0.73, 97.5%CI 0.65–0.83) had decreased odds of TN utilization. Older age (aOR 0.98, 97.5%CI 0.98–0.99), female sex (aOR 0.90 97.5%CI 0.83–0.99), and Medicaid insurance (aOR 0.78, 0.68–0.90) were associated with decreased odds of loss to follow-up. Conclusion: In the first 9 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, we found sociodemographic patterns in TN utilization that were similar to those found very early in the pandemic. However, these sociodemographic characteristics were not associated with loss to follow-up, suggesting that lack of TN utilization may not have coincided with loss of access to care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number834708
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Volume13
DOIs
StatePublished - 11 Feb 2022

Keywords

  • disparities
  • equity
  • loss to follow-up
  • sociodemographic
  • telehealth
  • telemedicine
  • teleneurology
  • underserved

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