Health Equity Research Fellow and MD/PhD Student Publish Pivotal Paper on Telemedicine and Healthcare Equity

Dr. Christopher J. Gonzalez, the inaugural HRSA Health Equity Research Fellow at the Diversity Center of Excellence, WDOM, and Lala Tanmoy Das, MD/PhD student, have published a pivotal paper in the Journal of General Internal Medicine (JGIM) on telemedicine and healthcare equity.

With collaborative mentorship from Dr. Gonzalez, Lala (Tom) Das served as first author on the JGIM paper, entitled “Preparing Telemedicine for the Frontlines of Healthcare Equity.” The paper shares observations from the COVID-19 epidemic, while highlighting patient care inequities seen in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. As illustrated in the paper, one such case reveals how a patient had to depend upon visits to the Emergency Room as a form of patient care. The authors state that “thousands of people are in the same plight,” and, as a result of strains on hospitals during the COVID-19 epidemic, healthcare centers had to quickly turn to telemedicine as a means to provide non-emergency care.

Findings in the paper include that “telehealth is here to stay.” Despite certain challenges, the authors believe that telemedicine may be of benefit to underserved communities in terms of reducing or eliminating transportation burdens, unwanted wait times at physician offices, and/or having to take time off from work. In addition to the use of telemedicine, the authors also explore reimbursement negotiations and access to care.

Lala Tanmoy Das (incoming WCM Class of 2019) was supported by a Medical Scientist Training Program grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award number T32GM007739 to the Weill Cornell/Rockefeller/Sloan Kettering Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program.

Dr. Gonzalez is the first HRSA Health Equity Research Fellow at the Diversity Center of Excellence at the Cornell Center for Health Equity. He joined the Center in July of 2019 on a two-year research fellowship that also involves a Master’s in Clinical Epidemiology. Christopher J. Gonzalez was born to Cuban parents in Hialeah, Florida. He studied Neuroscience and Creative Writing in Spanish at New York University, received his MD from Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and completed his Internal Medicine residency training at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. He is a primary care physician committed to providing care in predominantly Latinx communities. He has served as a leader in numerous institutional diversity initiatives and has been recognized for his commitments to teaching and increasing diversity in medicine. His research focuses on understanding and leveraging social and cultural behaviors to address obesity and obesity-related conditions in Hispanic communities.