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Doctor on Demand CEO Hill Ferguson. Photo: Axios.

The coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented opportunities for growth
in the telehealth industry, including treating mental health and chronic conditions like diabetes, Hill Ferguson, the CEO of Doctor on Demand, told Axios at a virtual event on Tuesday.

What's changed: "Everything from reimbursements, paying providers for telemedicine in places where that wasn't possible, lowering interstate licensing laws that was prohibiting physicians from treating patients over interstate boundaries has been relaxed, patients are now aware of telemedicine at much higher rates than they were before," he said.

Mental health: "Most people feel more comfortable talking to a therapist from their home," he said, adding that patients can avoid "having to go out into an office environment where you might be uncomfortable."

Physical health: The industry is learning that "much more can be treated virtually than was assumed before," Ferguson said, noting that more physicians are embracing telehealth visits after viewing the option as "substandard" before the pandemic.

The bottom line: "Now, with everyone being used to living in a pandemic ... using telemedicine to get care has become the norm. And so we're treating a lot more of everything," he said, including diabetes and mental health issues.

Watch the event here.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Jan 13, 2021 - Health

Why COVID demands genetic surveillance

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A seemingly more transmissible coronavirus variant is threatening the world — and exposing the U.S.' lackluster genetic surveillance.

Why it matters: A beefed-up program to sequence the genomes of infectious disease pathogens infections could help the U.S. identify dangerous new coronavirus variants — and get the jump on pathogens that could ignite the pandemics of the future.

Jan 14, 2021 - Health

WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins

Health workers at a cordoned-off section of the international airport in Wuhan, China, as the World Health Organization team arrives on Thursday. Photo: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty Images

A World Health Organization team of researchers arrived in Wuhan, China, Thursday ahead of their investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Driving the news: Dominic Dwyer, a Sydney virologist based who's among the scientists on the visit, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation they don't expect to find a "patient zero." "But we may have a much better indication of whether the virus truly started in Wuhan," he said.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Jan 14, 2021 - Health

The flu season that isn't

Data: CDC; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Thanks largely to social distancing and mask-wearing — as well as higher uptake of the flu vaccine — influenza deaths this season are almost nonexistent.

Why it matters: The drastic drop in infections of influenza and other circulating respiratory viruses has given the U.S. health care system a welcome respite at a time when COVID-19 is rampaging.

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