CALIFORNIA - The pandemic has permanently altered the way medicine is practiced and healthcare is delivered, accelerating the advancement and spread of telemedicine. According to McKinsey, the use of telemedicine has increased by 38 times compared to pre-pandemic levels.1 Usage has since stabilized, but not decreased.
Traditionally, telemedicine was often thought of as an inferior substitute for standard in-office visits, and often meant primarily for patients in rural areas. The general opinion of telemedicine as a less-than-ideal medical care option may not have been entirely wrong in pre-pandemic times as the medical community grappled with lack of fair payment, technology, regulations, and an overall lack of clarity as to how and when virtual medicine should be practiced and delivered. This led to confusion, dissatisfaction among both physicians and patients, and ultimately the underuse of a potentially critical way to serve patients in rural, urban, indigent, and affluent areas alike.
Since the onset of the pandemic, however, telemedicine has blossomed. The pandemic rendered many physicians and their patients uncomfortable with seeing each other in-person for routine visits for fear of contracting COVID-19 in the office - this instigated the use of virtual visits at a rate never seen before. Furthermore, with the advent of the 2020 federally endorsed payment scheme, all telemedicine appointments were required to be reimbursed at the same rate as in-person visits.
Other waivers to telemedicine policy rules resulted in easier access as well, including good faith flexibility under the United States’ Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (allowing for more visits to occur on consumer plThe content herein is subject to copyright by The Yuan. All rights reserved. The content of the services is owned or licensed to The Yuan. The copying or storing of any content for anything other than personal use is expressly prohibited without prior written permission from The Yuan, or the copyright holder identified in the copyright notice contained in the content.