Stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus have significantly accelerated the use of telehealth in California, making such visits the “new normal” during current the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent story in CalMatters.
While Kaiser Permanente has had a telehealth program in place for years, until just a few months ago telehealth accounted for about 20% of its medical visits. Under pandemic restrictions, about 80% of the organization’s appointments nationally are now video visits or phone calls.
“In the past, a lot of what we thought of in respect to telehealth was offering our patients choice and convenience,” Edward Lee, MD, The Permanente Federation’s chief information officer, told CalMatters. “Nowadays, because of COVID-19 and the shelter-in-place order [in the San Francisco Bay Area], a lot of patients are seeing this as a necessity.”
The story points out that California already was poised to expand telehealth options under several new laws passed last year. Initially, though, it was seen as a tool for rural communities and inner-city areas with a shortage of providers.
To read the full story, visit the CalMatters site.