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Staying Healthy

Giving telemedicine a try

August 01, 2020

Here's what you need to know so you can see your doctor without leaving home.

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Remember when "virtual" doctor visits became available a few years ago? Being able to chat with a doctor on a video call instead of an in-person office exam was novel, but it never caught on as a mainstay of treatment.

That changed in the spring of 2020, when the pandemic hit and telemedicine rocketed from novelty to necessity. "At Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital, we did 1,600 virtual encounters across the system in February. In March it was 89,000, and in April it was 242,000. That's the kind of growth we're experiencing," says Dr. Joseph Kvedar, a dermatologist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, senior advisor for virtual care at ­Partners HealthCare, and president of the American Telemedicine Association.

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