Whether we like it or not, the pandemic nudged our techno-centric society even further towards virtual social interactions and services. Virtual health care was already a thing when the pandemic lockdowns restricted access to in-person medical care. Today, virtual doctor appointments are the norm. A recent AARP survey found that the percent of adults 50 and older who used telehealth jumped 30 points from March 2020 to March 2022 .
While nothing can replace an in-person medical check up, telehealth has proven to be a helpful alternative. A 2021 American Medical Association survey on telehealth use found more than 80% of respondents believed patients have better access to care using telehealth. Many of the patients who are benefiting from telehealth are those who are historically underserved, such as Americans with mobility limitations, or those in rural areas without access to a local doctor.
The same survey reported that 44% of doctors agreed that telehealth lowered the cost of care for patients.
As the pandemic wanes, lawmakers are eager to ensure the continuation of telehealth services. That’s great news for all Americans.
Last month, House Republicans introduced a proposal to “safeguard and maintain expanded telehealth access after the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration expires, crack down on fraud, waste, and abuse by incentivizing states to go after improper payments and utilizing state-of-the-art technology and expand access to innovative, patient-centered technologies to improve patients’ well-being.”
The pandemic showed both health consumers and legislators that telehealth is not only convenient, cost-efficient, and, in some cases, safer, but it is a helpful technological advancement that makes it easier for many Americans to receive care. While telehealth has its limitations, its merits make it something worthy of keeping around.