Barriers and Facilitators to Telemedicine: Can You Hear Me Now?

Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2021 Mar;41:25-36. doi: 10.1200/EDBK_320827.


In its most direct interpretation, telemedicine is medical care provided at a distance. Although telemedicine’s use had been steadily increasing, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted an unprecedented interest and urgency among patients, health care professionals, and policymakers to facilitate health care devoid of the need for in-person contact. The growth in personal access to telecommunications technology meant an unprecedented number of people in the United States and around the world had access to the equipment and technology that would make virtual care possible from the home. As the mass implementation of telemedicine unfolded, it became quickly apparent that scaling up the use of telemedicine presented considerable new challenges, some of which worsened disparities. This article describes those challenges by examining the history of telemedicine, its role in both supporting access and creating new barriers to access in trying to get everyone connected, frameworks for thinking about those barriers, and facilitators that may help overcome them, with a particular focus on older adults and patients with cancer in rural communities.

PMID:34010056 | DOI:10.1200/EDBK_320827