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Promise and Perils of Telehealth in the Current Era.

Mahtta D, Daher M, Lee MT, Sayani S, Shishehbor M, Virani SS. Promise and Perils of Telehealth in the Current Era. Current Cardiology Reports. 2021 Jul 16; 23(9):115.

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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The concept of telehealth has been around since the early twentieth century and has been used in different healthcare specialties. However, with the recent COVID-19 pandemic necessitating physical distancing, there has been an increased emphasis and utilization of this mode of healthcare delivery. With increasing reliance on telehealth services, data from investigator groups have brought to light several merits as well as failings of telehealth. RECENT FINDINGS: Telehealth services have been associated with improved healthcare outcomes while remaining a cost-effective mode of healthcare delivery. Improving access and timeliness of care has also been observed by multiple telehealth-related studies. Finally, telehealth services are also anticipated to serve as part of emergency preparedness protocol and have shown to reduce provider-patient supply-demand mismatch, prevalent in certain subspecialties. With these benefits come certain challenges that have been highlighted in the literature. Indiscriminate utilization of telehealth services may widen public health disparities among minority groups and may increase overall healthcare expenditure due to overutilization of care, and the digital platform may jeopardize security of patient data. COVID-19 has been a catalyst in increasing utilization of telehealth services. As we move forward from the current pandemic, lessons learned from the studies demonstrating benefits and challenges associated with telehealth should be taken into account when drafting post-pandemic telehealth policies. Special attention should be paid to ensure that telehealth narrows, and not widens, the currently existing disparities in access to healthcare.

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