Influences of Telehealth Services on Appointment Attendance in Underserved Populations

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Allen, Allison
Harris, Lisa
White, Tamara
Washburn University
School of Nursing
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Background/Problem: Accessibility barriers related to social determinants of health impact appointment attendance rates in underserved, medically complex populations. Underserved populations influenced by such barriers are at higher risk of poor health outcomes due to inadequate chronic disease management. Complications of chronic disease can lead to negative repercussions including higher rates of emergency room visits and hospitalizations. Purpose: The purpose of this pilot project was to evaluate if the presence of on-site telehealth services impact healthcare appointment attendance rates in an underserved, medically and socially complex population, residing in public housing in Topeka, Kansas. Methods: A telehealth access point was implemented within a public housing residence where the project team conducted scheduled primary care visits at monthly intervals. Inclusion criteria required residency within the public housing complex, 18 years of age or older, and an absence of an established primary care provider or the desire to change providers. Interventions were implemented in collaboration with the Topeka Housing Authority (THA), Pine Ridge Family Health Center and concurrent pilot study by the Behavioral health Workforce Education for Longitudinal Learning (BWELL). Simple descriptive statistics and qualitative data were utilized to evaluate improvement in appointment attendance rates. Conclusion: 71% of participants attended all recommended appointments offered by the project team, indicating on-site telehealth services as a viable solution for healthcare access. Participants reported the need for additional, ancillary services such as social work, mental health, and dental services that provide further benefit to meet the population’s health needs and sustainability.