Telehealth transformation: COVID-19 and the rise of virtual care

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2020 Jun 1;27(6):957-962. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocaa067.


The novel coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic has altered our economy, society, and healthcare system. While this crisis has presented the U.S. healthcare delivery system with unprecedented challenges, the pandemic has catalyzed rapid adoption of telehealth, or the entire spectrum of activities used to deliver care at a distance. Using examples reported by U.S. healthcare organizations, including ours, we describe the role that telehealth has played in transforming healthcare delivery during the 3 phases of the U.S. COVID-19 pandemic: (1) stay-at-home outpatient care, (2) initial COVID-19 hospital surge, and (3) postpandemic recovery. Within each of these 3 phases, we examine how people, process, and technology work together to support a successful telehealth transformation. Whether healthcare enterprises are ready or not, the new reality is that virtual care has arrived.

Keywords: COVID; pandemic; telehealth; telemedicine.

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care / methods
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • Communicable Disease Control / methods
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / therapy*
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics*
  • Patient Care / methods*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / therapy*
  • Quarantine
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Telemedicine*
  • United States / epidemiology