So You Want to Keep Your Telehealth Visits After the Pandemic Ends? Don’t Get Too Cozy with Them Yet.

Nearly overnight, the coronavirus pandemic accomplished for digital health what decades of policy and reimbursement lobbying efforts could not; the sudden and widespread adoption of telehealth services for urgent and routine care. Although prior to COVID-19, there has been some evidence for increased satisfaction and efficiency of telehealth visits in primary care (1), it has recently been described in a summary of 58 systematic reviews, that evidence of clinical efficacy of telehealth visits has been lacking.(2) Nevertheless, despite the lack of robust clinical efficacy, the need for social distancing to limit spread of the coronavirus thrust the adoption of a digital health technology upon the healthcare system in a way never before seen. The resulting large-scale, natural experiment in telehealth is teaching us some early important lessons, but what lasting effects will telehealth have on the healthcare delivery system, and the ability for physicians to provide high quality care to patients remotely? And if you’ve liked telemedicine for remote visits with your doctor, will you get to keep it post-COVID?

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