Racked with anxiety, Lauren Shell needed to talk to her cancer doctor.
But she lives at least an hour away and it was the middle of her workday. It was also the middle of a pandemic. Enter telemedicine.
The 34-year-old Leominster, Massachusetts, resident arranged a quick video visit through the app Zoom in May with her doctor in Boston. He reassured her that he was confident in their treatment plan, and the chances of her breast cancer returning were low.
“It was really great to be able to talk to him about what I was feeling,” she said. She felt comforted afterward “knowing that I wasn’t alone.”
This is how doctors and health care researchers envision telemedicine evolving after the COVID-19 pandemic fades. They see the practice — which has grown explosively this year — sticking around to replace many in-person visits and become a greater part of routine care.
Patients might use telemedicine more for check-ins like Shell did or to talk to a doctor after a procedure or get a second opinion. There’s also secure messaging for quick questions and more remote monitoring of chronic health problems like diabetes.
“Your care is going to get better,” said Dr. Thomas Lee, a Harvard professor and care delivery expert with the health care consultant Press Ganey.
But to keep some of telemedicine’s growth, thorny questions about insurance coverage and doctor reimbursement need to be resolved.
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Techlife News #459