The majority of patients at New York-based community health centers used audio-only telehealth rather than video visits during the pandemic.

Telehealth increased access to care for New York State residents, with most patients attending audio-only visits compared to video visits, highlighting the digital divide that still plagues underserved communities, a study from the NYU School of Global Public Health revealed.

Like the majority of health systems and clinics across the country, community health centers in New York State adopted telehealth to facilitate healthcare delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers looked at 36 community health centers in the state and the visits that occurred between February and November 2020. In addition, they conducted interviews with 25 primary care, behavioral health, and pediatric providers from eight community health centers.

During the first week following the stay-at-home order in March 2020, telehealth visits accounted for nearly 40 percent of all community health center visits. By mid-April 2020, more than 60 percent of visits were conducted via telehealth, the researchers found. Telehealth visits declined steadily in August, accounting for less than 30 percent of visits.

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