Telehealth and other connected health services are not the silver lining to the pandemic that many people thought. Many patients can’t afford or don’t want the needed broadband connection, creating another obstacle for the underserved.
In Orange County, Calif., when COVID-19 forced CalOptima to shut down its health and social care center, Elizabeth Lee, director of the public health insurance system’s elderly program wasn’t too worried. A Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE, CalOptima quickly set up telehealth and remote monitoring to help patients who, on average, needed about 10 clinical visits a year.
But the promise of telehealth was deflated by a survey that found two-thirds of their 400 patients either lacked a device, lacked an internet connection, or in some cases both.