Publication Date



Neurology Clinical Practice


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, outpatient stroke care delivery was rapidly transformed to outpatient evaluation through video (VTM) and telephone (TPH) telemedicine (TM) visits around the world. We sought to evaluate the sociodemographic differences in outpatient TM use among stroke patients.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective chart review of outpatients evaluated at 3 tertiary stroke centers in the early period of the pandemic, 3/16/2020 through 7/31/2020. We compared the use of TM by patient characteristics including age, sex, race/ethnicity, insurance status, stroke type, patient type, and site. The association between TM use and patient characteristics was measured using the relative risk (RR) from a modified Poisson regression, and site-specific effects were controlled using a multilevel analysis.

RESULTS: A total of 2,024 visits were included from UTHealth (n = 878), MedStar Health (n = 269), and Columbia (n = 877). The median age was 64 [IQR 52-74] years, and 53% were female. Approximately half of the patients had private insurance, 36% had Medicare, and 15% had Medicaid. Two-thirds of the visits were established patients. TM accounted for 90% of total visits, and the use of TM over office visits was primarily associated with site, not patient characteristics. TM utilization was associated with Asian and other/unknown race. Among TM users, older age, Black race, Hispanic ethnicity, and Medicaid insurance were associated with lower VTM use. Black (aRR 0.88, 95% CI 0.86-0.91,

DISCUSSION: In our diverse cohort across 3 centers, we found differences in TM visit type by race and insurance early during the COVID-19 pandemic. These findings suggest disparities in VTM access across different stroke populations. As VTM remains an integral part of outpatient neurology practice, steps to ensure equitable access are essential.



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