New collaborative research with Waymark, published in the journal JAMA Network Open.
How does access to primary care differ between people living in areas with optimal broadband internet service and those living in areas with suboptimal broadband internet service? We conducted a cohort study of 6,995,545 veterans seen at 937 primary care clinics providing telemedicine and in-person clinical visits. We found that before the COVID-19 pandemic, broadband speed was not associated with the occurrence of primary care visits. After the onset of the pandemic, for patients living in census blocks with optimal vs inadequate broadband, video visits were twice as likely to occur (4.5 vs 2.2 per 100 patients per quarter), while in-person visits were less likely to occur (13.9 vs 16.3 per 100 patients per quarter); telephone visits were similar by broadband speed category. Overall, patients with optimal vs inadequate broadband availability had more video-based primary care visits and fewer in-person primary care visits after the onset of the pandemic, suggesting that broadband availability was associated with video-based telemedicine use.
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