«The video visit has been one of the gifts of the otherwise merciless pandemic. As a physician, I’ve loved seeing patients access care so conveniently: Elderly patients who don’t have to waste two hours commuting and finding parking; brand new parents asking questions of their pediatricians from their living rooms; patients with mobility issues receiving pain medication without having to leave their homes.
Ultimately, though, the focus on the video visit might be something of a red herring. We know that telemedicine will not replace most healthcare services. We’ve already seen a swing back towards in-person ambulatory care in many specialties—one gynecologist told me her mix went from 0% telemedicine visits pre-COVID, to >80% video in April, now back down to <10%, used only in a minority of cases where patients prefer video. Yes, providers will continue to offer both options: A psychiatrist told me his department is creating separate ‘video only’ clinic blocks and ‘in-person only’ clinic blocks for each provider; similar patterns are emerging from primary care groups.
This mix begins to finally hint at what the real gift of digital medicine is. It’s not the format in which we deliver healthcare to patients, it’s much bigger: a massive shift in how we triage our patients to the right kinds of care. Continuous, always-on triage is coming to all parts of our health system.»
Article written by Vineeta Agarwala