Coronavirus fuels telemedicine boom

(NBC News) Americans and their doctors are logging on to telehealth platforms and services at record numbers amid the coronavirus pandemic…many of them for the first time.

Many of the virtual visits aren’t related to the virus, but rather a way to get medical care for chronic conditions or routine visits.

It’s been a smooth transition for pediatric allergist Dr. David Stukus and his patients at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

“They’re used to communicating by text message or social media or things like that, so this is really natural for them,” Dr. Stukus says.

One in five Americans now says they’ve used telemedicine and would do so again, according to a recent survey.

The pandemic is further driving demand. 80 percent of doctors say they’ve seen patients virtually due to COVID-19.

Those numbers will likely continue to go up as some regulations are lifted, expanding access, at least temporarily, for Medicare and Medicaid patients.

Dr. Jason Hallock at SOC Telehealth has treated patients virtually for over a decade and believes first-time users will appreciate the convenience and access to specialists nationwide.

“We think after COVID-19 there will be a new balance nationally, and possibly 25-percent of the care provided in hospitals may be done by telemedicine in the future,” he says.

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