Trump administration aims to keep telehealth revolution here to stay
Regulation slowed down access to telehealth, but now reforms have made it accessible.
opinionAlex M. Azar II Opinion contributorPublished 2:11 PM EDT Jul 31, 2020The COVID-19 pandemic has forced healthcare providers around America, and across the world, to adapt in real time, from reorganizing hospitals to devising treatment protocols as rapidly as possible. But one of the most fundamental transformations has applied to all of healthcare, not just COVID-19 testing and treatment: the meteoric rise of telehealth.In just weeks, Americans went from using telehealth — carrying out medical appointments over virtual connections rather than in person — in a relatively narrow set of circumstances to making it one of the most common ways to receive healthcare. This spring, from March to April, the number of patients using telehealth services in traditional Medicare increased from roughly 13,000 a week to over 1.5 million a week.In February, just 0.1% of primary care visits covered by traditional Medicare were done via telehealth. By April, it was 43.5% — more than a 400-fold increase.Bold action by President Trump and his administration made this explosive growth possible. The Centers for Medicare