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Virtual primary care – seeing a health care professional via phone, computer, or other connected device – can improve access to care for everyone, but it brings particular value to people from historically marginalized communities.

In research conducted by The Harris Poll for Elevance Health, consumers were asked what they wanted from virtual primary care. Information from that study revealed that Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely than their White counterparts to find telehealth options appealing. Enabling digital access is one way to improve health equity, given that the National Institutes of Health has found racial and ethnic minorities may experience barriers in accessing medical care in the United States.

Recognizing that virtual primary care might be useful for people from historically marginalized communities, Ashok Chennuru, global chief data and insights officer at Elevance Health, discussed the study and how virtual primary care can play a bigger role in advancing health equity.

Q: What are some of the barriers to care experienced by people from historically marginalized communities?

A: They can include discrimination by care providers, limited access to high-quality care, stigma, bias, mistrust of the healthcare system, geographic location, and work hours due to type of job or number of jobs. As an industry, we need to address these barriers so that people have increased access to the services they need to maintain and improve their health and well-being.

Q: How do people from marginalized communities view digital forms of care?

A: In our virtual primary care survey, Black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans were more likely than their White counterparts to wish their primary healthcare providers used more digital forms of communication. In addition, when it comes to Black and Hispanic Americans being able to manage their health, they are more likely than their White counterparts to say the ability to email or text a healthcare provider during and outside business hours is essential.

Q: How do people from historically marginalized communities view virtual primary care, and how can it play a role in their healthcare?

A: Overall, the survey found that people from historically marginalized communities are receptive to the idea of virtual primary care, and they see its benefits to society. Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian Americans are more likely than their White counterparts to think the healthcare system is changing for the better with the inclusion of virtual primary care. These populations are also more likely to say virtual primary care could help them take charge of their own health. Interestingly, Black and Hispanic/Latino Americans are more likely than their White counterparts to report that, if given the option, they use virtual primary care more often than in-person visits.

Q: How does virtual primary care improve health equity?

A: Health equity is about giving everyone the chance to be as healthy as possible. It’s clear from our research that people from historically marginalized communities want these digital tools and believe that such access to care can help them better manage their own health and well-being. Tools like virtual primary care can remove social barriers to health, enabling a more personalized experience and better outcomes.


The research was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of Elevance Health among 5,009 adults age 18+. The survey was conducted March 3-21, 2022.

Find the full methodology at the end of this page

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