Telemedicine takeover is far from assured

This piece is from mid-summer, but it’s still worth a look.

The COVID pandemic has led to more physicians seeing patients using telemedicine technologies, helped along by a temporary loosening of restrictions on reimbursement by both government and private insurers. This led to widespread predictions that telemedicine is bound to essentially take over healthcare. This article shows that this may not actually happen. From a physician’s point of view, this is not surprising. There is some outpatient care that simply can’t be done over a video chat (for example, biopsies and minor procedures), and there are patients (especially among seniors) who simply prefer to see their doctor face to face. Some specialties are naturally be better suited to remote practice, and others (more procedure-oriented) will be less so.

To whatever extent telemedicine becomes more widespread as a result of COVID-19, the use of office sharing makes sense in parallel. If a physician (or other provider) shifts to a combination of telemedicine and in-person care, they may want to split their time. For example, an endocrinologist might see patients by telemedicine three days a week (when they need only to review labs and medications), and in person two days a week (for physical exams, thyroid biopsies, etc.). For a practice like that, it makes no sense to lease an office full-time, but an office two days a week would be perfect.

Date: September 30, 2020

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