Thursday, January 26, 2023
Accessible Virtual Health Care
Jessica L. Roberts (University of Houston), Tiffany Penner (University of Houston), Accessible Virtual Health Care (2023):
Implemented properly, virtual health care—like online appointments, patient portals, and remote patient monitoring—has tremendous potential. These technologies can reduce costs and improve efficiency. They can also eliminate access barriers, streamline communication, and improve the management of chronic conditions. People with disabilities might then seem like an obvious population to benefit from these advances. As compared to people without disabilities, they have less access to regular care, encounter more barriers, and experience worse health outcomes. The recent move toward virtual health care offered an opportunity to address these disparities. Unfortunately, much of the current technology is inaccessible to patients with disabilities. This Article considers why. First, a robust market failed to develop around accessible virtual health technologies due to high perceived costs and low perceived demand. Second, existing antidiscrimination laws have not meaningfully improved digital accessibility or health care access. We, therefore, advocate an approach focused on setting standards, changing best practices, creating incentives, and investing in enforcement.