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Telemedicine's challenge: Getting patients to click the app

Widespread smartphone use, looser regulations and employer enthusiasm are helping to expand access to telemedicine, where patients interact with doctors and nurses from afar, often through a secure video connection.

Caitlin Powers uses telemedicine from her Brooklyn apartment

Caitlin Powers uses telemedicine from her Brooklyn apartment to video conference with her physician, Dr. Deborah Mulligan.  Photo Credit: AP/Mark Lennihan

More companies are giving their workers a chance to seek care through telemedicine, but this high-tech way of getting diagnosed and treated has been slow to catch on.

The consultant Mercer found last year that 80 percent of mid-size and large U.S. companies offered telemedicine services. Most recent figures show only 8 percent of eligible employees used telemedicine at least once in 2017.

Widespread smartphone use, looser regulations and employer enthusiasm are helping to expand access to telemedicine. It's where patients interact with doctors and nurses from afar, often through a secure video connection.

Supporters say virtual visits make it easier for patients to see a therapist or quickly find help for ailments that aren't emergencies. Many expect telemedicine to catch on over time.

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