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Widely embraced as a medical lifeboat during the pandemic, telehealth is showing signs of taking on water.

A new study from a team of Johns Hopkins and Stanford researchers suggests that telemedicine — at least in its current form — may be ill-suited to staunch the collateral health effects of the pandemic, such as a rise in heart attacks and strokes among patients with chronic conditions. The research, published this month in JAMA Network Open, offers an early insight into the quality of telehealth visits during the pandemic at a time when most studies have only looked at quantity.


The analysis — which pulled quarterly data from roughly 4,000 physicians in outpatient practices between Jan. 1, 2018 and June 30, 2020 — found that clinicians delivering care virtually rarely assess blood pressure or cholesterol, two vital indicators of heart and metabolic health among patients with chronic illnesses, and measures that are often relied upon for medication management.

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