AP-NORC Poll Highlights Telehealth Use and Equity for Older Adults

Dec 22, 2021

Use of telehealth has been common during the pandemic among adults age 50 and older, but that use has also brought concerns around equity, according to a survey of adults in America age 50 and older by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

While older adults, according to the poll, like the ease of scheduling visits, doing so sooner than in-person appointments would be available, and with specific clinicians, there is a concern about a lower quality of care. There are also a range of issues with technology access.

Technological barriers are particularly salient for those without a college degree, as they are more likely than those with a college degree to seek in-person care because they don’t have the necessary device or programs, their internet is too slow, or they don’t feel comfortable using technology. They are also more concerned about a lack of privacy in their home and their provider not understanding their cultural preferences, according to the poll.

The concerns around telehealth quality of care is particularly strong among nonwhite respondents to the poll who also report greater concern than white respondents
about  the security of their health information, lacking privacy, health care
coverage or reimbursement, and not having a personal relationship with their doctor for in-person care.

Much more information and findings are available in the full report here. Any age- and dementia friendly partners interested in tools to improve access to technology and skill-building for older adults can check out MHAC’s digital equity resources here.