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Half of physicians now using telehealth as COVID-19 changes practice operations

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Close to half of doctors are now using telehealth to treat patients as the COVID-19 pandemic changes practice patterns and how physicians deliver care.

That’s up from 18% of physicians using telemedicine two years ago, based on The Physicians Foundation’s “2018 Survey of America’s Physicians.”

In this latest physician survey, Merritt Hawkins, a physician search company, found that the use of telemedicine has been rapidly accelerated by the COVID-19 epidemic, which has spurred changes to reimbursement policies that had previously limited its use. 

 

“The impact on physicians from COVID-19 is going to be transformative,” said Travis Singleton, executive vice president of Merritt Hawkins, in a statement. “The way patients access physicians and how and where physicians practice will fundamentally change.”

One positive result of the pandemic is that barriers to accessing physician services through telemedicine may be reduced, Singleton noted. And that will be critical as the nation deals with a growing physician shortage.

The Physicians Foundation, American Medical Association, Florida Medical Association, Massachusetts Medical Society and Texas Medical Association recently launched The Telehealth Initiative, which helps physicians implement telehealth services. The initiative provides free, online access to resources to encourage all physicians to consider telehealth services in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Merritt Hawkins surveyed more than 800 physicians in collaboration with The Physicians Foundation as a brief “pulse check” to determine how doctors are being affected by and responding to COVID-19.

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