Telehealth use surged from 8% of Americans in December to 29% in May as primary care and mental health physicians and specialists turned to remote care out of necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a UnitedHealth Group report.
Telehealth evangelists long have touted using high-speed internet connections and a range of devices to link providers and patients for remote care. But regulatory hurdles and medicine’s conservative culture limited virtual checkups to largely minor conditions such as sinus infections or unique circumstances such as connecting neurologists to rural hospitals that lack specialized care.
The pandemic lockdowns closed doctors’ offices and delayed nonemergency care for millions of Americans. Some clinics scrambled to acquire technology platforms to deliver remote care. Others employed rarely used video programs to reach patients in their homes.
Remote visits among Medicare patients surged through the end of March, prompting Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Director Seema