Background and Aims:
Telehealth may be a successful strategy to increase access to specialty care for liver disease, but whether the areas with low access to care and a high burden of liver‐related mortality have the necessary technology access to support a video‐based telehealth strategy to expand access to care is unknown.
Approach and Results:
Access to liver disease specialty care was defined at the county level as <160.9 km (100 miles) from a liver transplant (LT) center or presence of local gastroenterology (GI). Liver‐related mortality rates were compared by access to care, and access to technology was compared by degree of access to care and burden of liver‐related mortality. Counties with low access to liver disease specialty care had higher rates of mortality from liver disease, and this was highest in areas both >160.9 km from an LT center and without local GI. These counties were more rural, had higher poverty, and had decreased access to devices and internet at broadband speeds. Technology access was lowest in areas with low access to care and the highest burden of liver‐related mortality.
Areas with poor access to liver disease specialty care have a greater burden of liver‐related mortality, and many of their residents lack access to technology. Therefore, a telehealth strategy based solely on patient device ownership and internet access will exclude a large proportion of individuals in the areas of highest need. Further work should be done at the local and state levels to design optimal strategies to reach their populations of need.