J Med Internet Res. 2020 Sep 21. doi: 10.2196/20839. Online ahead of print.
Telemedicine refers to the delivery of medical care and provision of general health services from a distance. Telemedicine has been practiced for decades with increasing evidence proving its potential for enhanced quality of care for patients, reduction in hospital readmissions, and increase in savings for both patients and providers. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant increase in the reliance on telemedicine and telehealth for provision of health care services. Developments in telemedicine should be structured as complements to current health care procedures, not with the goal of completely digitizing the entire health care system, but rather to use the power of technology to enhance areas that may not be working at their full potential. At the same time, it is also clear that further research is needed on the effectiveness of telemedicine in terms of both financial and patient benefits. We discuss the current and rapidly increasing knowledge about the use of telemedicine in the United States, and identify the gaps in knowledge and opportunities for further research. Beginning with telemedicine’s origins in the United States to its widespread use during the COVID-19 pandemic, we highlight recent developments in legislation, accessibility, and acceptance of telemedicine.