In the US, officials have opened up access to telehealth as part of efforts to control the spread of Covid-19. Natalie Healey speaks to Dr Nicol Turner Lee from the Brookings Institution Center for Technology Innovation about how remote consultations may change healthcare in the wake of the pandemic.

The arrival of Covid-19 meant health systems around the world had to adapt rapidly. But the pandemic had a particular impact on the way patients receive care from their doctors in the United States. Modern technology now makes it possible for individuals to be seen by a healthcare professional without them having to be in the same room. This is known as telemedicine or telehealth.

During the crisis, US officials have opened up access to these remote health services. More people than ever before are speaking to their doctor using video conferencing technology using their home broadband connection.

“Telemedicine offers patients better access to care, improved health outcomes and increased patient empowerment,” says director of thematic analysis at GlobalData, Kathryn Whitney. “For healthcare professionals, it allows high-risk patients to be monitored and treated more easily, as well as improving efficiency and work-life balance.”

For years, analysts have highlighted the potential benefits of using telehealth for the management of chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease. But until recently, access to telehealth services was patchy at best in the US.

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