Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Health Care

Telehealth in 2021

Published in: Brazilian Internet Steering Committee, ICT IN HEALTH: Survey on the Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Brazilian Healthcare Facilities, pages 109–125 (in Portuguese) and 255–270 (in English) (2021)

Posted on RAND.org on December 01, 2021

by Shira H. Fischer, Li Zhou

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Getting medical care in 2021 can still involve a patient in a gown on an exam table, a doctor in a white coat, and physical contact. Increasingly, however, there are many new ways to provide medical care. In this article we explore telehealth as it has developed during a global pandemic that has forced an accelerated move to new technologies.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, use of telehealth, particularly synchronous video care, was relatively rare. It was difficult to assess adoption rates, and published estimates were variable (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2020; FAIR Health, 2019; J.D. Power, 2019; American Telemedicine Association [ATA], 2016; AmericanWell, 2019; Park, Erikson, Han, & Iyer, 2018; Fischer, Ray, Mehrotra, Bloom, & Uscher-Pines, 2020). Since the beginning of the pandemic, use has expanded significantly (CDC, 2020), and the amount of research on the topic has expanded. We explore here the background of telehealth use in the U.S., how to study utilization, the impact of COVID-19 on uptake, and policy questions.

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