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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

Biden threatens new sanctions against Ethiopian officials over Tigray conflict

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

President Biden on Friday signed an executive order allowing the Treasury and State Departments to impose sanctions against Ethiopian officials "responsible for, or complicit in, prolonging the conflict" in the Tigray region.

Driving the news: Hundreds of thousands of people are facing famine conditions in Tigray, but less than 10 percent of the needed humanitarian supplies has reached the region over the last month "due to the obstruction of aid access" by the Ethiopian government, according to Biden administration officials.

Top general: Calls to China were "perfectly within the duties" of job

Gen. Mark Milley. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley told the Associated Press on Friday that calls with his Chinese counterpart during the final months of Donald Trump's presidency were "perfectly within the duties and responsibilities" of his job.

Why it matters: In his first public comments on the calls that have prompted critics to question whether the general went too far, Milley maintained that such conversations are "routine," per AP.

The consumer's massive "war chest"

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Economists expect the pace of economic growth to cool off now that government transfer payments like stimulus checks and emergency unemployment benefits are in the rearview mirror. But evidence suggests that the U.S. consumer is sitting on a lot of financial firepower that could be a key driver of growth in the quarters to come.

Why it matters: U.S. consumer spending is massive, representing about 70% of GDP.