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Telehealth Could Help Some Rural New Mexicans Even After the COVID-19 Pandemic

During the COVID-19 crisis, many health systems adopted telemedicine out of necessity. Given longstanding shortages in health care providers for rural areas, many are finding that telemedicine is a health care method that could provide needed care for rural southern New Mexico. Mei Kwong, executive director of PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy comments on waivers to federal rules that paved the way for greater adoption of telemedicine.

  • Las Cruces Sun News

During the COVID-19 crisis, many health systems adopted telemedicine out of necessity. Given longstanding shortages in health care providers for rural areas, many are finding that telemedicine is a health care method that could provide needed care for rural southern New Mexico. As physical distancing during the COVID crisis has become the norm, telemedicine use has grown. One poll found that 23% of U.S. adults have used telehealth due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal rule changes have spurred the growth.  Mei Kwong, the executive director of PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy says the biggest change that increased accessibility to telehealth has been the federal government’s waiver of previous requirements for Medicare coverage. Medicare now temporarily allows patients to access telehealth from home instead of having to visit a medical clinic, and it lifted the requirement that only people from rural areas can access telehealth.

She imagines the temporary lax rules becoming permanent, especially as people experience the convenience of it. “That’s going to be hard, to take that away from people,” Kwong said.

Click below to read the full article.

Originally published by Las Cruces Sun News


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