Background: The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated health and social inequities, with patients avoiding needed health care and providers triaging treatment by urgency. Telehealth (TH) offers care continuity and reduced COVID-19 risk and use of TH nationally surged with the pandemic. Yet many of the most vulnerable patients have barriers to TH use, leading to disparities in engagement in TH-based clinical care and research. If unaddressed, these barriers will lead to increased health disparities.
Proposed Solution: The project team will create capacity for future patient-centered outcomes research/comparative clinical effectiveness research focused on reducing disparities in TH uptake. Nationally, the team will host a consensus conference with a diverse group of patients, community organizations, researchers, educators, clinicians, and other key stakeholders who have lived experience in TH use and barriers among vulnerable populations to set a patient-centered research agenda to reduce disparities in TH uptake. Locally, the team will increase capacity to engage meaningfully with community partners on research focused on reducing disparities in TH by forming a Telehealth Advisory Board (TAB). The TAB will be comprised of stakeholders representing various underserved regions across Philadelphia.
Objectives: The goal of this work is to build capacity for conducting meaningful PCOR/CER focused on reducing disparities in TH uptake by: (a) hosting a national consensus conference to develop a patient-centered prioritized research agenda focused on reducing disparities in TH uptake across vulnerable populations; (b) creating a TAB comprised of stakeholders representing underserved populations across Philadelphia to build capacity for meaningful partnerships with the community for research focused on reducing disparities in TH uptake.
Activities: To accomplish the first objective, the team will work with a steering committee of five national leaders in patient and family engagement, TH and care delivery, and health disparities as well as the TAB to plan a national consensus conference, to be convened at the end of year 1. Results will be widely disseminated through publications and reports. For the second objective, the team will engage with Philadelphia community organizations to recruit a diverse group of patients and stakeholders for the TAB. The TAB will meet monthly throughout the project period to help plan and attend the conference (year 1) and to assist with applying the prioritized research agenda to the Philadelphia community (year 2).
Outcomes and Outputs: Primary outcomes include: (a) a patient-centered prioritized research agenda focused on reducing disparities in telehealth uptake that will be widely disseminated and (b) a Jefferson TAB comprised of a diverse range of members from across the Philadelphia community to collaborate in subsequent work focused on addressing priority agenda items.
Patient and Stakeholder Engagement Plan: Patients and stakeholders will be engaged starting in the first month of the project to join the TAB and will continue to work with the team beyond the project end. In addition, the team has a five-person steering committee of leaders in patient engagement and telehealth to assist in conference planning and dissemination.
Project Collaborators: The core project team is from Thomas Jefferson University. Steering committee members are from the Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care, Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center, American College of Physicians, Cambridge Health Alliance, as well as a patient advocate.