Put simply, says Dr. Angela Fusaro, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how people interact with one another. Healthcare is no exception.
“From a provider perspective, I’ve seen doctors who didn’t previously offer telehealth services scrambling to implement the technology in some way,” says Fusaro, an emergency room doctor and CEO of Atlanta-based telehealth startup Physician360. “This trend has been especially true on the outpatient side, where doctors and patients may be consulting on more minor ailments or conditions, but I’m starting to see colleagues who work in inpatient departments also adopt telehealth as well.”
As she sees it, the rush toward telehealth makes sense: It’s an easy way for providers and patients to connect with one another without risking their health.
Patients definitely see the potential benefits of telemedicine, as usage has skyrocketed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Kaiser Health News, the famed Cleveland Clinic health system logged as many as 60,000 virtual visits in March. Previously it averaged around 3,400 such visits per month.
Changes in federal health care rules also fueled the surge: Medicare recently allowed all of its enrollees to use the service regardless of location or health needs, and also freed up doctors to practice telemedicine across state lines. Several states have also waived licensing requirements for doctors.
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