We’ve written many times about the just-in-time and reduced contact benefics of telemedicine, telehealth, and remote patient monitoring during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before painting the picture with too rosy a brush, however, a new report based on research by the Urban Institute found that telemedicine hasn’t delivered for all populations.

The Urban Institute surveyed nonelderly U.S. adults nationwide from September 11 to September 28, 2020. This period was approximately six months into the COVID-19 pandemic. Survey respondents answered questions about their use of and satisfaction with telehealth services. The survey also inquired about people who wanted telehealth but did not get it, providers who only offered telehealth, and, for those who did not use telehealth, why they did not.

The survey findings were interesting and point to areas that need future attention. Here are the major takeaways:

First, the good news. One-third of the surveyed adults said they had had telehealth visits since the pandemic began. More than three-quarters of those who used telehealth were satisfied with the experience. The following factors were associated with telehealth use: fair or poor health, multiple chronic conditions, Black and Hispanic/Latinx adults, and adults who live in metropolitan areas.

And then there were the drawbacks. Adults in poor or fair health were less likely to be satisfied with their telehealth experience than adults in good to excellent health. Also, adults with poor or fair health or chronic conditions were significantly more likely to want telehealth visits but did not have one, along with Hispanic/Latinx adults. And adults who wanted but were unable to have a telehealth visit during the pandemic were more likely than all other adults to have unmet medical care needs.

The Urban Institute’s bottom line on telehealth accessibility is that — while telehealth use increased significantly during the pandemic compared to earlier periods — it wasn’t equally successful or accessible for all populations. This study points to a need to work on equal access to telehealth.