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Telemedicine usage up during the pandemic

American Press Institute

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield says telemedicine use is booming during the pandemic. 

The insurance giant said Wednesday that during the first four months of 2020, telemedicine services were used about 2.6 million times in New York State; telemedicine was used only about 290,000 times in 2019. 

Excellus Medical Director Dr. Sudha Bakshi said the coronavirus pandemic and our reactions to it are the main drivers for the growth.

“Everyone is dealing with stress related to the environment and the situation at hand and so 

reactions to it are very normal,” said Bakshi. “It really does allow people to access and start getting the care that they need in this time of isolation and disconnection.”

Bakshi said conditions like anxiety and depression can be treated by talk therapy, a popular option that can be done over the phone or in a secure video conference app like Zoom. Bakshi thinks teletherapy could become commonplace after the pandemic is over.

“One of the benefits of that comes out is that we are able to feel proficient at a larger scale at providing care,” said Bakski “This could actually help to diversify the way that people access mental health.”

Bakshi says telemedicine isn’t just about mental health, people are using it to treat everything from colds to cold sores but the type of telemedicine varies by doctor and provider. 

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.