Telemedicine use surging in coronavirus pandemic

As people avoid hospitals and doctors’ offices to slow the spread of coronavirus, they’re increasingly using telemedicine—virtual connection with medical professionals via mobile devices or computer—according to a March 19, 2020 WGBH story.

Several large telehealth companies are reporting roughly double the typical number of calls and virtual visits per day, according to the article. In Massachusetts, with consumer demand growing, Gov. Charlie Baker announced on March 15, 2020 that all insurers are now required to cover medically necessary telemedicine visits.

While the U.S. has been slow to embrace telemedicine, this may change as Americans become better accustomed to the technology, said Michael Barnett, assistant professor of health policy and management at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“Now everybody is going to be considering what is the most appropriate level of interaction to give this patient, what they need, given the risks and benefits,” he said. “And I think the way we just view health care delivery in general is going to change because people will get used to a different way of thinking about does this patient need to actually be seen in person?”

Listen to or read the WGBH story: Telemedicine Calls Soar As People Avoid Emergency Rooms Amid Coronavirus Pandemic