Tele-medicine and COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world profoundly over the past few months. Globally, millions of people have contracted COVID-19 and hundreds of thousands have died [1]. Millions more have had their lives up-ended with jobs ending, schools closing, family separations, and varying degrees of quarantine. We face uncertainty daily: Did someone I pass at the grocery store have COVID? How much longer should I stay home? Fortunately, people have been taking precautions to keep themselves and others healthy: washing their hands, covering their mouths, and avoiding unnecessary exposures.

One exposure that I didn’t expect we would be able to avoid here in the US has been visits to the doctor’s office. However, given recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) temporary expansions, more people than ever are using tele-health. In March, there was a 50% increase in tele-health visits across the country [2]. This expansion into tele-health has been aided specifically by the recent CMS 1135 waiver that has increased access to and reimbursements for tele-health [3].

That said, I’m left wondering how tele-medicine will affect caring for patients with heart disease and other high-risk groups in the future. Will adherence improve without the hassles of having to drive to the office? Will tele-physical exams be accurate enough to confidently make medication changes? Only time will tell. Certainly something I’ll be looking out for.




  4. Author: Intel Free Press

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