Like donning a mask in public, consulting a doctor by video call has been a first for many during the coronavirus pandemic. 

After struggling to gain traction for years, telemedicine has taken off during these past two months of lockdown, giving patients the ability to check in with medical professionals via virtual appointments from home. 

“Since about mid-March, it’s become a reality and even a likelihood for millions of patients. Before then, less than 10 percent of U.S. adults had ever had a telemedicine visit,” Lori Uscher-Pines, senior policy researcher at the Rand Corp., told the Washington Post. “But Covid-19 [is changing] all that, likely permanently.”  

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About 1 billion telemedicine visits are expected to be conducted in the U.S. by year’s end, according to Forrester Research; 900 million of those will be related to Covid-19. 

Forrester also predicts time constraints could lead to a supply crisis for virtual care, since only one-quarter of healthcare organizations in the U.S. had a virtual care program in place in January. 

Hospital networks like Jefferson Health in Pennsylvania and New Jersey that had only handled a dozen such appointments per week prior to the pandemic were scheduling hundreds of virtual visits per day in late March, reports HR Dive

Early on in the pandemic, patients might have encountered long wait times, as providers were caught unprepared for the influx of virtual appointments. Insurers Cigna and Aetna have both seen significant increases in members seeking telemedicine care, per HR Dive.

It’s been a useful tool for patients who live far from a doctor’s office and deal with long wait times to see their practitioners, those looking to avoid any risk of catching the virus in a medical setting, or patients finding specialists’ offices closed. 

Oregon Eye Specialists offer telemedicine appointments. Email to schedule a visit.

Article shared from Portland Business Journal.


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