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K Health CEO Allon Bloch argued at an Axios virtual event Tuesday that the surge in the popularity of telemedicine during the pandemic offers a "massive opportunity" to rethink the U.S. health care system in a way that could cut costs and broaden primary-care access.

Why it matters: Given its heavily regulated and fragmented nature, health care tends to be slow to adopt innovation, as Axios' Bryan Walsh has reported. But the pandemic has shown Americans the advantages of communicating with doctors remotely.

By the numbers: According to FAIR Health's Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker, which draws from 31 billion private health care claim records, telemedicine claim lines increased an astounding 4,347% year-over-year in March.

What they're saying: "I think, to me, it's a basic question: If you look at your pre-COVID life, what do you yearn for? You probably yearn for a coffee place, a restaurant, a music venue," Bloch told Axios' Caitlin Owens.

  • "I doubt people are yearning to, if they're not feeling well, book a doctor's appointment, take days to see the doctor, wait in line, get sneezed on, and then pay a lot of money."
  • "If you can resolve your problem remotely, in a matter of minutes, which I think most of primary care and chronic care can be done that way, then why not?"

Yes, but: Bloch acknowledged that there are obstacles to widespread adoption of telemedicine, including access to the internet.

Go deeper

Joe Biden's big lead on health care issues

Reproduced from a Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll; Chart: Axios Visuals

Health care has fragmented into multiple issues in this campaign cycle, and Joe Biden leads President Trump on almost all of them, according to our KFF polling.

The big picture: Biden’s commanding leads on protecting people with pre-existing conditions and managing the coronavirus outbreak suggest that Trump’s record and rhetoric on those issues, while popular with his base, may have backfired with the electorate generally.

Scoop: U.S. and Israel to form team to solve consulate dispute

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (right) meet in Washington. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel are planning to form a joint team to hold discreet negotiations on the reopening of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, Israeli officials say.

Why it matters: The consulate handled relations with the Palestinians for 25 years before being shut down by then President Donald Trump in 2019. Senior officials in Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government see the consulate issue as a political hot potato that could destabilize their unwieldy coalition.

Nikolas Cruz pleads guilty to Parkland school shooting

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz at the defense table during jury selection at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Oct. 6, 2021. Photo: Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Nikolas Cruz on Wednesday pleaded guilty on all counts for carrying out the 2018 shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead, including 14 students and three staff members.

Driving the news: Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty at a hearing on Wednesday to 17 murder counts and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder for carrying out the deadly shooting.