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How can equitable video visit access be delivered in primary care? A qualitative study among rural primary care teams and patients

Goldstein K, Perry KR, Lewinski A, Walsh CW, Shepherd-Banigan M, Bosworth HB, Weidenbacher HJ, Blalock D, Zullig LL. How can equitable video visit access be delivered in primary care? A qualitative study among rural primary care teams and patients. BMJ (Clinical research ed.). 2022 Aug 5; 12:. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2022-062261.

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Objective The COVID-19 pandemic sparked exponential growth in video visit use in primary care. The rapid shift to virtual from in-person care exacerbated digital access disparities across racial groups and rural populations. Moving forward, it is critical to understand when and how to incorporate video visits equitably into primary care. We sought to develop a novel clinical algorithm to guide primary care clinics on how and when to employ video visits as part of care delivery. Design Qualitative data collection: one team member conducted all patient semistructured interviews and led all focus groups with four other team members taking notes during groups. Setting 3 rural primary care clinics in the USA. Participants 24 black veterans living in rural areas and three primary care teams caring for black veterans living in rural areas. Primary and secondary outcome measures Findings from semistructured interviews with patients and focus groups with primary care teams. Results Key issues around appropriate use of video visits for clinical teams included having adequate technical support, encouraging engagement during video visits and using video visits for appropriate clinical situations. Patients reported challenges with broadband access, inadequate equipment, concerns about the quality of video care, the importance of visit modality choice, and preferences for in-person care experience over virtual care. We developed an algorithm that requires input from both patients and their care team to assess fit for each clinical encounter. Conclusions Informed matching of patients and clinical situations to the right visit modality, along with individual patient technology support could reduce virtual access disparities.

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