Telemedicine and COVID-19: What to Know Now

This article originally appeared on Endocrine Web.

For decades, Joseph C. Kvedar, MD, a professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School and president-elect of the American Telemedicine Association, has urged his fellow physicians to consider practicing virtual medicine. He would say: "Think about interactions you have with your patients where you don't need to touch them."

The reaction? "People laughed," says Dr. Kvedar, who has been practicing telemedicine, also called telehealth, for nearly 30 years.

Times have obviously changed. These days, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous physicians are trying to get up to speed on telemedicine quickly. With COVID-19 making office visits dangerous, switching to telemedicine is a viable solution.

Clinics are becoming ghost towns, as practitioners shift to virtual medicine, says Todd Czartoski, MD, a neurologist and chief medical technology officer at Providence Health System in Renton, WA, which includes 51 facilities. In the two weeks leading up to early April, his telemedicine system gave access to 7,000 new physicians. ''What we are seeing is a rapid conversion," he says. "This is really a paradigm shift in how we deliver care. Once we get through the pandemic, I think it's going to be an irreversible one."  

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