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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We're going to see more medical care delivered remotely — both during the pandemic and after.

The big picture: Health care has always been one of our most regulated industries, which slows the pace of innovation. But the emergency nature of COVID-19 is taking the shackles off telemedicine.

As part of the $2 trillion CARES Act passed last week by Congress to respond to COVID-19, the Federal Communications Commission plans to spend $200 million to support telehealth programs.

  • It's one of a number of efforts to leverage remote technology to expand health care at a moment when the demand for services is high but face-to-face contact presents its own risks for patients and providers.

Be smart: Telemedicine isn't just about patients speaking to a remote doctor via a smartphone app like Teladoc, which last month reported virtual visits increasing by 50% because of the pandemic. Hospitals can take advantage of remote doctors by outsourcing specialities, such as radiology.

  • Collaborative Imaging is an alliance of radiologists who remotely view X-rays or CT scans from a hospital and confer with attending physicians on patient care via a smartphone app.
  • Besides allowing for hospitals to tap a wider range of sub-specialists than they might be able to bring on board in person, remote work is also safer in the time of COVID-19. "In case I'm infected, I don't have to worry about infecting others, and vice versa," says Dhruv Chopra, CEO of Collaborative Imaging.

Regulations that required radiologists to be licensed in the states of the hospitals they were reading for, even if they were working remotely, held back the practice. But after President Trump declared a state of emergency on March 13, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provided blanket waivers for telemedicine providers to practice across state lines.

  • There are still complexities around private insurance networks that vary from state to state, but Chopra expects remote radiology to continue to grow. "This is going to change the industry dramatically. You won't go back to the days of lots of radiologists under one roof."

The bottom line: Crises have a way of knocking aside the barriers to innovation — even in a practice as regulated as medicine.

Go deeper: Medicare issues new telehealth flexibility amid coronavirus crisis

Go deeper

30 mins ago - Health

Moderna says vaccine appears to protect against new COVID-19 variants

Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine is effective against new variants of the virus that first appeared in the U.K. and in South Africa, the company announced on Monday.

Yes, but: The vaccine was as effective against the strain from U.K., but saw a six-fold reduction in antibodies against the South Africa variant. Even still, the neutralizing antibodies generated by the vaccine "remain above levels that are expected to be protective," according to the company.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Updated 36 mins ago - World

Xi Jinping warns against "new cold war" in Davos speech

Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo: Wang Zhao - Pool/Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that a "new cold war" could turn hot, and must be avoided, in a speech on Monday at World Economic Forum’s virtual “Davos Agenda” conference.

Why it matters: Xi didn't refer directly to U.S.-China tensions, but the subtext was clear. These were his first remarks to an international audience since the inauguration of President Biden, whose administration has already concurred with Donald Trump's determination that China is committing "genocide" against Uyghur Muslims, and issued a warning about China's aggression toward Taiwan.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Dominion files $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani

Photo: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani on Monday seeking $1.3 billion in damages for his "demonstrably false” allegations about the company's voting machines.

Why it matters: Giuliani led former President Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the election and spread the baseless conspiracy theory that Dominion's voting machines flipped votes from Trump to Joe Biden.