Dr. Ariel Santos (on the screen) director of the telemedicine program at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, does a skin cancer screening on a patient
During the coronavirus pandemic, telemedicine became a virtual phenomenon. As people remained in their homes during the pandemic, they began chatting with their doctors over the phone or video platforms on subjects such as chronic disease management, ongoing medical support, mental health issues and specialty care.
To reach their patients, many health professionals had to figure out quickly how to set up their first online systems for telemedicine, also known as telehealth.
“Doctors hadn’t provided it as an option previously because the infrastructure and technology wasn’t widely available,” said Dr. Shira Fischer, a physician policy researcher at the RAND Corp., which has conducted surveys asking Americans whether they use telehealth.
Fisher noted that in a February 2019 survey, less than 4% of the respondents said they used video telehealth. But two years later during the pandemic, that number had skyrocketed to 45%.
“I think telehealth is great,” said Michael Wu, a restaurant manager who lives in Alexandria, Virginia. “When I have a cold or the flu, I don’t have to take time off work to go to the doctor’s office for an exam, and maybe to get medication. It’s easier for me to have a video appointment with my doctor using my cellphone.”
Here to stay
Many health professionals think telemedicine is here to stay.
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