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The increased convenience of telemedicine visits during the Covid-19 pandemic is spurring calls among patients and doctors to permanently expand access across the U.S. But financial and privacy watchdogs are spreading a different message: Be careful what you wish for.

Just a year before the pandemic took hold, telemedicine was used to facilitate one of the biggest frauds in Medicare’s history, a $1.2 billion scheme to allegedly use telemedicine providers to prescribe braces and other medical equipment to beneficiaries who did not need them.


Virtual care has also been associated with data breaches that have exposed patient information and even conversations with their doctors. In June, U.K.-based Babylon Health suffered a breach that allowed users of its video app to see other patients’ appointments. Researchers have also found vulnerabilities in the popular platform Zoom that could allow users to join active meetings, which increasingly include medical appointments.

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