Coronavirus Could be a Boon for Telemedicine

Coronavirus could be a boon for telemedicine, as health industry hopes to keep ‘worried well’ out of the hospital


Key Points:


  • The coronvirus outbreak could provide a bright spot for one sector of the health industry that has struggled to gain widespread acceptance: Telemedicine.

  • Health insurer Anthem, for instance, is staffing up more doctors for its service, LiveHealth Online, in case there are more cases in the United States.

  • Telemedicine start-ups are also bracing for a rush of customers.



As the coronavirus continues to spread across the U.S., hospitals and insurance companies are expecting a swell in visitors to clinics and emergency rooms.


But the crisis could provide a bright spot for one sector of the health industry that has struggled to gain widespread acceptance: Telemedicine.


Virtual services, like online symptom-checking tools and remote consults with doctors, could keep the so-called “worried well” from flooding hospitals. If the healthiest people don’t show up in emergency rooms, that could mean that more resources are available to treat the sickest and most vulnerable patients.


Official recommendations from both the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization encourage the use of telemedicine apps. Public companies that offer telemedicine, including Teladoc, have seen their stock surge in the past week, and many private start-ups, from AmericanWell to Plushcare, tell CNBC they are bracing for increased usage.


Insurance companies are starting to follow suit. Anthem, one of the largest insurers, is ramping up its telemedicine tool, called LiveHealth Online, with a greater volume of physicians and other health profes