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    Advancing Health Equity Through Telehealth: AAMC Learning Series

    Through this learning series, the AAMC aims to highlight the role of academic medicine in promoting and advancing health equity through telehealth. Key elements of the series will focus on understanding the impact of telehealth on equity and access to care, the role data can play in improving telehealth access, and evolving best practices that are being used by health systems to improve digital health literacy and narrow the digital divide. An overview of each webinar is included below. Questions? Please contact telehealth@aamc.org.

    This work supports “Addressing the Digital Divide to Improve Vaccine Access & Information,” a supplemental award (#6NU50CK000506-02-01) funded under a cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Upcoming Webinars

    Learning Series 4A: Telehealth Accessibility for Patients with Hearing Loss

    November 27 from 1:00 - 2:30 PM ET


    With the rapid rise in telehealth services since the COVID-19 pandemic and the stabilizing rates of utilization in the past year, telehealth has become a modality of care that is here to stay. Telehealth has brought many benefits to healthcare, especially for patients who face barriers to accessing care, such as limited mobility, lack of transportation, inability to miss work or find childcare, rurality, and limited access to specialists. However, telehealth can also pose challenges for patients with vision, hearing, and communication disabilities, who may not be able to hear, see, or understand the provider over video or audio. 

    This session will feature a panel of esteemed professionals and advocates working to ensure that patients with hearing loss (identifying as Deaf or Hard of Hearing) can access telehealth services. The discussion will include an overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its requirements for accessible telehealth services, address the challenges that patients with hearing disabilities face when accessing telehealth, and cover strategies for making telehealth more accessible for this patient population.


    • Moderator: Natalie Lawson, MHSA – Senior State Policy Analyst at Georgetown  
    • Jan Withers Director of the North Carolina Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Past President of TDI, Board Member National Association of State Agencies of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
    • Kathy Wibberly, PhD Director Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center
    • Tony Davis, MSW Accessibility Resources Program Manager North Carolina Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
    • Lisa Bothwell, Esq. Program Analyst in the Office of Policy Analysis and Development (OPAD) within the Center for Policy and Evaluation (CPE) at the Administration for Community Living (ACL)

    Learning Series 4B: Ensuring Access to Telehealth for Patients with Sensory Disabilities

    December 14 from 3:00 – 4:00 PM ET


    The COVID-19 pandemic propelled telehealth into the forefront of healthcare delivery. While utilization rates have stabilized in recent years, telehealth has firmly established itself as an essential modality of care. However, telehealth can also pose a variety of challenges for patients with sensory disabilities, which include but are not limited to, inaccessible interactions between Zoom and screen-readers, a lack of captioning and ASL interpretation services, and more. 

    Ensuring accessible quality care through telehealth for people with sensory barriers is essential for Academic Health Systems to address. This panel discussion will explore design, implementation, and policy considerations in guaranteeing the equitable participation of patients with disabilities when accessing telehealth services.


    • Moderator: Gary Norman, Esq.
    • Lorraine Buis, PhD. - Associate Professor, Family Medicine, Associate Professor of Information, School of Information & Editor-in-Chief, JMIR mHealth and health at Michigan Medicine
    • Rupa S. Valdez, PhD.  - Associate Professor of Systems and Information Engineering & Associate Professor of Public Health Sciences at University of Virginia
    • Laura C. Hoffman - Assistant Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Center for Health Law and Policy at Cleveland State University College of Law (CSU Law)
    • Ariele Belo, Co-Executive Director/Director of Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services - Hearing, Speech & Deaf Center (HSDC) UW Medicine – PENDING 

    Past Webinars

    Approaching Telehealth Through a Health Equity Lens at the Health System and Patient Levels, a Children’s Colorado Example

    Watch the recording

    In the last few years, the use of telehealth services has become a rapidly utilized model of healthcare. As the utilization of telehealth services continues to grow there is an emerging need to create solutions that prioritize improving equity and addressing diverse patient populations. As health systems continue to grow their telehealth footprint meeting the needs of underserved communities and providing digitally inclusive care is crucial. The use of a health equity lens can help institutions to develop, execute and analyze the impact telehealth services on patient populations and, ultimately, identify and eliminate barriers.

    Children’s Hospital Colorado has implemented their own health equity lens in their approach to telehealth at the health system and patient levels. Children’s Hospital Colorado will detail their process for recognizing patient needs, exemplify telehealth technology and workflow features that prioritize improving equity in patient population and provide a framework for fellow institution to create organizational approach for optimizing telehealth services to address diverse patient population needs.

    Learning objectives

    1. Improve recognition of patient needs through the identification of key factors impacting digital health disparities.

    2. Comprehend telehealth technology and workflow features that prioritize improving equity in patient populations.

    3. Develop an organizational approach for optimizing telehealth services to address diverse patient population needs.


    2022-2023 Telehealth Equity Catalyst Awards - Symposium Presentation

    The Telehealth Equity Catalyst (TEC) Awards seeks to support member institutions in their efforts to advancing health care equity through telehealth and health technology in new and effective ways, while addressing barriers to care via telehealth that impact health and health care equity. The following programs in this session demonstrate a commitment to addressing barriers associated with telehealth and health technology across clinical delivery and medical training, particularly for underserved and under-resourced communities. These programs will highlight how the TEC Award program has led to success in addressing barriers to care using innovative telehealth models and addressed patient access issues as a result of the digital divide.

    TEC Awards were launched as part of the AAMC’s efforts to support our members’ work to advance telehealth equity and serve as part of the AAMC’s strategic planning efforts to improve access to care for all. TEC Award applications for the 2024-2025 funding year will open in Spring 2024. For more information, please email telehealth@aamc.org

    Session 1 Speakers:

    • University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
      The Arkansas Telemedicine Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program
    • Johns Hopkins Medicine
      Convening Cross-Sector Stakeholders to Promote Telehealth Access for Older Adults in Baltimore City and the District of Columbia
    • Medical University of South Carolina
      Improving Telehealth Experiential Learning Through Virtual Reality Simulation for Patient Access, Engagement, and Equity
    • Medical University of South Carolina
      The CARES 529 Meeting Street Clinic: A Telehealth Initiative to Overcome Health Care Barriers and Increase Health Equity for People Experiencing Homelessness
    • Oregon Health & Science University
      The Patient Portal Simulator

    watch the recording

    Session 2 Speakers:

    • University of California Davis
      Addressing Health Care Inequities Using Virtual Family-Centered Rounds in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
    • Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California and LAC+USC Medical Center
      Closing the Digital Divide by Integrating Design Thinking Curricula Into Medical Education
    • Massachusetts General Hospital
      Development and Validation of a Communications Curriculum for Equitable Telehealth Practice
    • Oregon Health & Science University
      Centering Community Expertise in Designing for Digital Health Equity

    watch the recording


    A School Based Telehealth Example from The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)

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    Dynamically understanding and addressing school-based telehealth services can support health system efforts to ensure equitable access to care for pediatric patients. This workshop will highlight work at The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and their school-based telehealth program, providing a thorough understanding of the approach, funding, modeling and the future for MUSC.

    Learning objectives

    1. Showcase work being done by MUSC in their school-based telehealth program

    2. Provide an opportunity for conversation for other institutions with school-based telehealth programs

    3. Exemplify best practices and strategies for institutions to learn and build out their own successful school-based telehealth programs


    Tackling the Digital Divide: AMCs’ Strategies to Improve Telehealth Access and Equity

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    Academic health systems are integrating telehealth to meet organizational priorities, patient demand, and as a way to improve access to care for many patient populations. Targeted efforts that focus on ensuring access to care via telehealth for under-resourced communities are essential to better address patients’ needs during the COVID pandemic, and to support more equitable outcomes in the future. This webinar will highlight specific efforts that health systems are taking to eliminate the digital divide such as implementing digital health navigators, screening for the digital divide, and establishing community partnerships to support the development of digital literacy skills. Strategic efforts like these are critical to ensuring that all patients have the necessary broadband and internet access, device access, and digital literacy skills and to narrow today’s existing digital divide.

    Learning objectives

    • Define the digital divide and its impact on health care access and equity, and the role of health systems in addressing it
    • Understand approaches and strategies for narrowing the digital divide at specific health systems, and how they can be generalizable to others
    • Describe engagement approaches to ensure community and patient involvement in developing solutions to improve telehealth access and equity


    Promoting Equitable Specialty Access: Clinical Innovations & Tools from the Field

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    Health systems have deployed many strategies and tools to promote equitable access to specialty care. Through the AAMC’s Project CORE (Coordinating Optimal Referral Experiences), over 40 AMCs and children’s hospitals have focused on improving access to specialty care through enhancements to the referral process and use of eConsults. eConsults have been shown to enable timely access to specialty input, improve communication and coordination between providers, garner positive patient experience, and reduce costs of care. Project ECHO has also served as an important tool for promoting increased primary care-specialty care collaboration and has leveraged technology to remove some of the traditional barriers to specialty access including geography, travel, and costs. Speakers will discuss how tools like eConsults and Project ECHO can enable health care equity, as well as potential risks, and share opportunities for assessing and improving equity within these programs.

    Learning objectives

    • Articulate the role of clinical innovations and technology in enabling health care equity and improved access to specialty care
    • Understand the necessary data and approaches to analyses for assessing health care equity within existing eConsult and Project ECHO programs
    • Describe opportunities for leveraging this data to better understand disparities in access and opportunities for intervention through these programs


    • Robert Rohloff, MD
      Medical Director, Health Management and Community Services, Children’s Wisconsin
    • Tim Poulson
      Value and Risk-Based Product Manager, Children’s Wisconsin
    • Maggie McDonnell, MPH
      Director, Oregon ECHO Network, Oregon Health & Science University
    • Jonathan Betlinski, MD
      Associate Professor, Oregon Health & Science University
    • Lisa Chew, MD, MPH
      Associate Professor, UW Medicine


    Leveraging Data to Drive Change in Telehealth Access Equity

    Watch the recording

    With the rapid increase in telehealth utilization in the spring of 2020, many health systems quickly deployed outpatient telehealth services in a matter of weeks. Two years later, outpatient telehealth remains a routine part of outpatient care delivery across the country. This rapid transformation left little time to design and tailor solutions to meet the needs of all patient populations, in some cases exacerbating access disparities which existed before the pandemic.

    Dynamically understanding and addressing access barriers to telehealth services can support health system efforts to ensure equitable access to care for all patients. This workshop will highlight work at Johns Hopkins Medicine through the perspective of several health system collaborators and their approaches to identifying, collecting, and acting on metrics to understand telehealth’s impact on access to care for all patients.

    Learning objectives

    • Define key measures to understand telehealth’s impact on equity
    • Describe examples of one institution's efforts to track and assemble telehealth equity measures
    • Understand various ways to act on telehealth equity data to improve access to care for marginalized communities
    • Describe how to translate telehealth equity related data to regional and national advocacy efforts


    • Yvonne Commodore-Mensah, PHD, MHS, RN
      Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing
      Faculty, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity
    • Brian Hasselfeld, MD
      Medical Director, Digital Health and Telemedicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine
    • Helen Hughes, MD, MPH
      Associate Medical Director, Office of Telemedicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine
    • Emmanuel Opati, MBA, MHA
      Assistant Administrative Director, Office of Telemedicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine


    How Academic Medicine Can Improve Digital Health Equity and Why It Matters

    watch the recording

    The benefits of digital health tools are many—timely access to providers, better care management through monitoring, more convenience for patients, and so on. Yet, many adults in the U.S. face barriers to digital health tools and technology and are being left behind. As academic medicine begins to integrate digital health tools and use them across the mission areas—patient care, research, training, and community engagement—health system leadership, providers, researchers, and educators must understand the risks that could exacerbate today’s health disparities and how to address them. For academic health systems to continue being leaders in innovation while also meeting the needs of underserved communities, providing digitally inclusive care will be crucial.

    Drawing from their research on Bridging the Digital Health Divide, their 2021 JAMA commentary “Focusing on Digital Health Equity,” and recently completed work, our speakers will outline approaches to mitigate the risks of digital health tools with specific action steps for health system leaders and providers.

    Learning objectives

    • Define the opportunities and risks that come from implementing digital health tools, particularly for patient populations that experience inequities in health care.
    • Describe how health system leadership and providers can ensure digital health readiness by addressing trust, access, and digital literacy.
    • Understand how to identify the needs of your patient population and implement digitally inclusive tools to improve access and care for all.


    • Courtney Lyles, PhD
      Associate Professor, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
      UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations
      UCSF Division of General Internal Medicine at ZSFG
      UCSF Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
      Co-Founder, SOLVE Health Tech
    • Urmimala Sarkar, MD, MPH
      Professor, General Internal Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
      Associate Director, UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations
      CO-Founder, SOLVE Health Tech