A few years ago, many may have been skeptical about seeing a doctor virtually, but the pandemic revealed it’s not only possible — it’s probably the future.
The telemedicine trend took off during the early days of the pandemic when physicians and specialists transitioned to it because of mandatory lockdowns and in-person appointments were only for emergencies to limit the number of people going to hospitals and clinics.
Two years later, experts like Dr. Shantanu Nundy, chief medical officer of Accolade, say the technology is here to stay.
“If they have to choose between a day's wages or seeing the doctor, they're going to choose a day's wages pretty much every time, right?” he said. “And so the fact that they could do it on their lunch break from work or do it from home with screaming kids in the back, it created an access point for people who didn't have one.”
We're making it easier for you to find stories that matter with our new newsletter — The 4Front. Sign up here and get news that is important for you to your inbox.
He’s written about the benefits of telemedicine, navigating the post-pandemic world in his new book “Care After COVID.”
“That's what my vision for health care after COVID is, is that we use the technology, not just to do the same thing we're doing now, but virtually, but to actually reimagine how can we create much more support and much more frequent touches around patients,” Nundy said. “So ultimately, we're making them healthier.”
According to a recent survey, 88% want to keep using telehealth for non-urgent visits in the future, up from 20% before COVID-19.
More than half of physicians say they view telehealth more favorably now than they did in 2019, with more than 80% offering virtual visits for treatment for routine follow up care, prenatal care, annual wellness exams and psychotherapy.
“Now you don't have to travel an hour to see somebody like myself,” said Dr. Lauren Grawert, a psychiatrist with Kaiser Permanente. “You can do an appointment over the phone. You can do an appointment over the camera.”
She says the convenience of telemedicine also eliminates barriers like childcare and transportation that keep people from seeking care in the first place.
Telemedicine is typically covered by insurance, the same way that traditional office visits and urgent care visits are covered.
Sign up for our Breaking newsletter to get the most urgent news stories in your inbox.