Three-quarters of specialists increased use of telemedicine during COVID-19 pandemic

A total 73% of cardiology, gastroenterology, pulmonology, and respiratory specialists in the US, Europe, the UK and Japan indicated that their use of telemedicine has increased as a result of the pandemic, according to a survey by data and analytics firm GlobalData.

Kathryn Whitney, MSc, Director of Thematic Analysis at GlobalData, comments: “Approximately two-thirds of specialists indicated that they were using telemedicine to treat patients prior to the pandemic, but around 40% of these were using it in just 1–20% of their patients. However, during the pandemic, just over a quarter of specialists indicated that the use of this technology had stayed the same or decreased. Furthermore, of the respondents that reported an increase in use, almost 20% reported a rise of between 21% and 40%, while 14% indicated an increase of 81–100%.”

The specialists were also asked whether they would use telemedicine once the pandemic had abated. Almost three-quarters (73%) indicated that they would use the technology in the future. Most specialists who did not foresee using telemedicine in the future indicated that they needed to see their patients in person in order to carry out examinations, while several also noted that future reimbursement or payer policy could be an issue.

Whitney concludes: “Telemedicine has been critical during the COVID-19 pandemic to limit the risk of person-to-person transmission of the virus and to reduce the burden on overwhelmed healthcare systems. While recent changes to reimbursement regulations in the US and Europe have rapidly expanded access to telemedicine services during the pandemic, it is unclear whether these will continue to be available once the crisis has abated. However, it is widely anticipated that the COVID-19 pandemic may be the tipping point for telemedicine, and that it will continue to be used once the crisis has abated.”

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