COVID-19 is Accelerating a Specific Healthcare Disparity

By J.C. Adams and Tim Caver, MBA

For five years our startup team has been dedicated to expanding mental health care access for underserved communities, where Blacks often experience the greatest healthcare disparities. COVID-19 has shown us how those disparities translate to a disproportionate number of lives lost.  The mental health impact of all these losses is incalculable.

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Consider the following challenges:

  • The majority of those suffering from mental illness are not receiving treatment.1
  • Factors associated with limited access to care, such as living in a rural area, low average income, and lack of insurance, may lead to the underutilization of mental healthcare services.
  • Emerging data shows that COVID-19 disproportionately affects minority communities, likely due to racism’s downstream effects on socioeconomic opportunities, health outcomes and insurance coverage.2
  • The Minimizing Error, Maximizing Outcome (MEMO) study found that minority patients often were unable to attend appointments with specialists due to transportation and other challenges.3

How has Telemedicine Helped?

As a response to the COVID-19 outbreak and limited access to face-to-face care, the Cares Act5 has been a tremendous success in that loosened restrictions and increased reimbursement for telemedicine has allowed for a widespread growth of telehealth.  However, higher rates of mental health and the need for preventive care will require telehealth solutions that are integrated with public and private institutions via electronic health records in order to support a continuum of care rather than acute-only.  That will also require higher levels of personal data security such as is required in current provider-driven health records systems.  Simply having video-conference and/or text/chat capability will likely not survive re-instituted patient-data regulations on telemedicine.

Innovation with Compassion

We all must do more.  Cloud 9 will work diligently with communities to overcome barriers to care by making telehealth secure and accessible to every individual in need.  

Click here to learn how Cloud 9 can help.

Citations / Publications:

1 - Inequities Amplified by COVID-19: Opportunities for Medicaid to Address Health Disparities

2 -  Journal of Primary Care & Community Health: Increased Likelihood of Missed Appointments (“No Shows”) for  Racial/Ethnic Minorities in a Safety  Net Health System

3 - Scientific American: Mental Health after COVID-19

4- American Journal of Managed Care: "No-Shows": Who Fails to Follow Up With Initial Behavioral Health Treatment?

5 - American Medical Association: CARES Act: AMA COVID-19 pandemic telehealth fact sheet


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