Telemedicine keeps doctors and patients connected at a safe remove

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Since the 1960s, telehealth cheerleaders have been predicting that video visits with doctors would soon become common for many U.S. patients. That became true only weeks ago, six decades later, when the coronavirus pandemic essentially shut down the world.

“Since about mid-March, it’s become a reality and even a likelihood for millions of patients,” said Lori Uscher-Pines, a senior policy researcher at the Rand Corp., whose research includes innovations in telehealth. “Before then, less than 10 percent of U.S. adults had ever had a telemedicine visit. But covid-19 [is changing] all that, likely permanently.”

The terms telehealth, telemedicine and e-health have nuances when used legally, but for consumers, they are usually used interchangeably and refer to health care provided by a professional in a non-face-to-face manner, says Mei Wa Kwang, executive director of the Public Health Institute’s Center for Connected Health Policy in Sacramento. Options can include a phone call, email, text, video visit or even a video email.

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