May 11, 2022

Telehealth aims to crack open Paxlovid’s prescription bottleneck

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

After months of shortages, pharmacies across the United States are being stocked with drugs to treat Covid-19. Now, the bottleneck has shifted to getting a prescription — and patients and public health agencies are looking to telehealth for help.

“Sometimes we hear telehealth is going to cure all of our challenges with access to health care, and that’s just not the case,” said Michelle Morse, chief medical officer of New York City’s department of health. “It’s a significant step forward in access, and yet there are still equity concerns with telehealth. It’s not a panacea.”

The patients most likely to know about and navigate digital health platforms to access the antivirals are typically younger, more affluent, and already well-served by the health system. And while a small group of public health departments are offering free telehealth, the end of the Health Resources and Services Administration Covid-19 Uninsured program means that uninsured patients may struggle to pay for teleservices, let alone any Covid care.

Michelle Lin, an emergency physician who works on an urgent care telehealth line in New York City, said many of the patients she sees turn to telehealth for Covid care have primary care doctors, but have struggled to get an appointment with them on short notice.

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