Telehealth usage soars during COVID-19

Telemedicine is seeing rapid adoption gains as physicians and patients become more comfortable using videoconferencing for telehealth visits.

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Internet-based virtual healthcare, sometimes called telehealth or telemedicine, has seen a massive increase in usage during the pandemic, according to new research.

A study by University of Michigan's National Poll on Healthy Aging (NPHA) found that a quarter of older adults aged between 50 and 80 had a virtual medical visit over a network in the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic. By comparison, in a similar poll from 2019, just 4% of people over 50 said they had ever had a virtual visit with a doctor.

"Telehealth visits have skyrocketed," NPHA said in a press release. "This has been an extraordinary time for the telemedicine movement."

One reason for the rise in telehealth usage has been the increase in public health mandates aimed at keeping as many people at home as possible to slow the virus spread. Patients have become more comfortable with the use of videoconferencing technologies, and medical professionals are offering more virtual visits. Among the survey respondents, 62% said at least one of their health providers offers telehealth visits, up from 14% of respondents in the 2019 poll.

NPHA isn't the only institution to report an escalation in virtual healthcare visits.

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