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Strengthening the Public Health Partnership and Telehealth Infrastructure to Reduce Health Care Disparities

Jie Chen, Merianne Rose T. Spencer, Portia Buchongo
Published: 1 December 2022

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the urgency to focus on the essential value of public health systems (PHSs) in fostering health equity across the US health care delivery system. PHS integration and care coordination can be successfully achieved through health information technology systems. The objective of the study was to examine the association between PHS partnerships (PHSPs), telehealth postdischarge, and racial and ethnic disparities in health care. The analysis used 2017 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Medicare 100% inpatient claims data, the Medicare Beneficiary Summary File, the American Hospital Association Annual Survey, and the American Community Survey. Results showed that compared with those treated in hospitals with neither PHSP nor telehealth postdischarge services, beneficiaries treated in hospitals with PHSP encountered significantly lower Medicare payment and inpatient and readmission rates. Black patients experienced significantly lower cost, inpatient visits, and readmission rates when treated in hospitals with PHSP and telehealth postdischarge services (coefficient = −0.051, P < 0.001; incidence rate ratio [IRR] = 0.982, P = 0.007; IRR = 0.891, P = 0.003). The results of the study demonstrated the importance of combining PHSP and telehealth postdischarge services to improve the efficiency of the health care delivery system and health equity. It is urgent to ensure that PHSs have adequate funding and telehealth infrastructure to support population health.
Keywords: public health system / telehealth postdischarge / racial and ethnic disparities / aging health

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