Jun 5, 2019

Telehealth isn't a silver bullet

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Virtual health care is all the rage right now, especially among investors and tech companies.

Driving the news: Private equity and venture capital firms invested $10 billion into the sector in 2018, suggesting that the financial world certainly expects that the expanding sector will turn a profit.

The big picture: Digital health tools have the potential to improve care.

  • But telemedicine also could become "a way for the U.S. profit-driven health care system to make big bucks by outsourcing core duties — while providing a paler version of actual medical treatment," Kaiser Health News' Elisabeth Rosenthal writes.

What they're saying: "It's an area where implications for health care spending are wide open," the American Enterprise Institute's Ben Ippolito.

  • If telehealth makes health care more accessible, people may end up using more of it. But if it serves as a substitute for resource-intensive office or hospital visits, it could drive costs down.
  • "What mixture of the two we get will likely depend in part on how the broader payment system evolves," Brookings' Matt Fiedler said.

The bottom line: "One should never underestimate the health care system's ability to make money," the Kaiser Family Foundation's Larry Levitt said.

  • "While making care more accessible, like through telehealth, might be good for patients, it may not save money, especially if the reimbursement rates aren't set appropriately," he added.

Go deeper: Medical AI has a big data problem

Go deeper

Updated 41 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 5,803,416 — Total deaths: 359,791 — Total recoveries — 2,413,576Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 1,720,613 — Total deaths: 101,573 — Total recoveries: 399,991 — Total tested: 15,646,041Map.
  3. Public health: The mystery of coronavirus superspreaders.
  4. Congress: Pelosi slams McConnell on stimulus delay — Sen. Tim Kaine and wife test positive for coronavirus antibodies.
  5. World: Twitter slapped a fact-check label on a pair of months-old tweets from a Chinese government spokesperson that falsely suggested that the coronavirus originated in the U.S.
  6. 2020: The RNC has issued their proposed safety guidelines for its planned convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  7. Axios on HBO: Science fiction writers tell us how they see the coronavirus pandemic.
  8. 🏃‍♀️Sports: Boston Marathon canceled after initial postponement, asks runners to go virtual.
  9. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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2 hours ago - World

The eye of the COVID-19 storm shifts to Latin America

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic has moved from China to Europe to the United States and now to Latin America.

Why it matters: Up until now, the pandemic has struck hardest in relatively affluent countries. But it's now spreading fastest in countries where it will be even harder to track, treat and contain.

Minnesota activates National Guard amid fallout from George Floyd death

A portrait of George Floyd hangs on a street light pole in Minneapolis. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

George Floyd, 46, moved to Minnesota to improve his life and become his "best self," but instead, he is dead because of Minneapolis police.

The latest: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz declared a state of emergency and activated the state's National Guard in response to violent clashes over the past two days between police and protesters in the Twin Cities.