This is a by-invitation contribution to the series “The world after covid-19”. More articles are at

FOR MILLENNIA the laying-on of hands represented the essence of the doctor-patient relationship: taking the pulse, tapping on and listening to the chest, feeling lumps—the human touch of the carer. But the covid-19 pandemic is accelerating the transition to a new model of remotely delivered health care that embraces the benefits of digital and data technologies. It is not a solution to the current crisis, but it will be one of its lasting consequences.

Telemedicine has been steadily on the rise for years, with companies around the world helping patients. It has not become a mainstream form of patient interaction because it defies the time-honoured custom of the physical visit. It also needs to overcome regulatory and commercial hurdles and requires a digital infrastructure that ensures secure connections between patients and physicians.

Read the full op-ed on The Economist website.