The current pandemic's role in promoting telemedicine remains evident, as millions of US citizens utilized telehealth services. At its best, virtual care has proved its importance in treating uncomplicated respiratory infections. However, the hurdle remains as to how it can enhance primary care for chronic diseases.
The future of telemedicine hangs on the balance as the debate on whether insurers will continue covering telehealth into the post-pandemic period permeates different platforms. Despite broad bipartisan backing, without proper legislation, the pilot insurance program is as good as over. Now that lawmakers remain reluctant about telemedicine's potential cost, even private insurers may not balance between virtual and in-person reimbursements.
Renowned insurers such as UnitedHealthcare are still hesitant on whether they will continue covering telemedicine services beyond September. While others like Cigna plan to continue with the insurance plan but on a pandemic level only. The federal government that sets the pace for telemedicine is likely on the verge of reverting the decision to reimburse virtual care providers once the pandemic's effects on emergency care end unless legislators extend reimbursement policies into the post-pandemic period.
The number of face-to-face medical examinations has started rising as the pandemic recedes in some of the states. While many patients confirm that they opted for telemedicine to avoid infections in crowded doctor facilities and emergency rooms, many say they prefer traditional visits.
Some insurers such as BlueCross BlueShield have confirmed their commitment to supporting telemedicine into the future, although the cost remains unsettled. High-risk patients and accessible legislators such as Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee want the Medicare program to continue. They cite that virtual consultations remain essential in enhancing the quality of medical care.
The bottom line
The current pandemic is a revelation to the importance of telehealth services in the USA medical sector. However, telemedicine will not stay any longer without proper mechanisms such as adequate doctor training and reimbursement regulations.
As patients increasingly look for convenient and affordable care, other methods of meeting patients are gradually replacing in-person visits. Today, innovations in telemedicine present new ways of handling public health emergencies and disasters like Covid-19.
n-demand telemedicine is a modern approach to sorting patients before they are taken to the emergency department (ED). The method allows for efficient patient screening, focuses on the patient, promotes communication, and provides health care providers with critical data such as travel and exposure histories. Telemedicine can be used in self-quarantine cases, effectively protecting patients, clinicians, and the community from exposure.
More U.S. health systems already have or are outsourcing these programs to attend to patients at home while minimizing exposure. In terms of combatting Covid-19, the telemedicine systems feature bots that allow for video visits with care providers and refer moderate-to-high risk patients to the right nurse triage lines.
In case of emergencies or high-risk patients in isolation, the technology allows clinicians to work remotely to cover multiple sites. Provided web-conferencing software and a secure open line; tablets can be used in ambulatory care settings, isolation facilities, and exam rooms. This system works for patients who aren't sick but can expose clinicians, visitors, and other patients to the disease. Physicians can also use an electronic intensive care unit (e-ICU) programs to monitor patients in ICUs in different hospitals remotely.
Mobile integrated healthcare programs and community paramedicine make it possible for clinicians to virtually provide expert medical care to patients at home. When the patient gets sicker, the technology reduces exposure by facilitating their direct transfer to a hospital bed, which means that patients can access subspecialists who may not be available in person.
Also, when health care workers contract Covid-19 and are quarantined at home, workforce capacity suffers greatly. Telemedicine not only minimizes exposure but also allows quarantined clinicians to provide services virtually.
In a nutshell, disasters and pandemics present significant challenges to the healthcare system. Telemedicine will not solve all the problems but will go a long way in ensuring the existing infrastructure is suited for the scenario and that clinicians can see patients. In these times of Covid-19, telemedicine can be beneficial.
Unfortunately, drastic times might open doors that host unprecedented opportunities. In the wake of the novel Coronavirus pandemic, it's safe to say more horizons have emerged, but we can all agree that telehealth Medicare provision is undoubtedly groundbreaking. Although CMS' Fostering Innovations Initiative was a top priority plan in Trump's administration to improve telehealth Medicare for seniors, the pandemics exigencies were crucial in making telemedicine a lifeline.
Telemedicine, including Medicare telehealth and other like services, is now essential to provide remote safe healthcare provision to seniors and other Medicare holders. Through authority and many a time via capitalization of various congressional authorizations in pandemic relief legislation, CMS has managed to topple policies that hinder telemedicine healthcare services. This, in turn, allows a variety of beneficiaries to receive safe, clinic-quality Medicare.
Amazing new features
We strive to make more telehealth features available for vulnerable individuals at home even after the pandemic passes. Now, Medicare patients can run an eye exam as well as ventilator management from their couch. We've added more than 135 features for a more convenient clinical tool during the entire epidemic, which you could use to complement traditional Medicare. Other features Medicare beneficiaries will have access to include:
- Telehealth-eligible psychiatric and psychological services
- Remote emergency room access
- Accessible and palatable virtual check-ups
- Expanded list of providers from occupational to physical therapists
There are more exclusive features and benefits accompanied by telemedicine. It reduces the risk seniors, and other Medicare holders are exposed to when seeking standard face to face meetups, for instance.
The future of telemedicine
Telemedicine healthcare provision is currently experiencing a rapid but unprecedented boom as the preferred clinical tool. According to preliminary data, more than 9million Americans sought the services of telemedicine in traditional healthcare provision. This displays a 5000pc rise in satisfied patients within the last three months. The data also indicates that 60% of mental health patients using telehealth-eligible psychiatric services engaged telemedicine to minimize the stigma associated with mental disorders. This is an excellent way to protect both healthcare providers and patients while conserving scarce PPE, which could be used by harder-pressed medics. Nonetheless, Congress needs to enact more favorable policies to ensure all Medicare holders, including seniors, are adequately covered.
Ever since our way of living was altered due to a global pandemic, many people have widely adopted telemedicine because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. With people locked in their homes, telemedicine has become an easy and efficient way of accessing healthcare. The pandemic has changed many medical protocols, including patients not having to contact doctors for their diagnosis. According to Dr. Diego De La Mora, the chief health informatics officer at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, health professionals are increasingly adopting telemedicine to attend to patients' needs, which haven't stopped because of COVID 19.
As a telehealth coordinator at Texas Tech Physicians of clinics in El Paso, De La Mora has acknowledged the role of technology during this pandemic in limiting social contact and patients who aren't comfortable going to the clinics. The clinics are still in operation for in-person visits where patients sit in an exam room with laptops that healthcare providers use to examine, communicate, and check symptoms. This enables doctors to handle patients who could be having the coronavirus without exposing themselves.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, there were close to zero telehealth visits by patients at Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso. Dr. Diego said that currently, the clinic has around 1000 telehealth visits each week. However, with the restrictions loosed up, more patients have begun to come to clinics in person, which has decreased the number of telehealth visits. An email response from the El Paso Inc. officials revealed that they had seen significant telemedicine use over the past few months, and approximately 80% of healthcare providers are currently equipped with telehealth technology.
The cost of telemedicine depends on insurance companies and what they cover. However, the technology is relatively cheaper as patients do not have to pay for building costs. Ourdoctor telemedicine company gives patients the ability to choose from various plans that can benefit just a single patient or their entire family. The technology has also proven effective for patients who want to avoid trips for in-person appointments and patients in rural communities who do not have access to hospitals.
The pandemic has been changing many individual's minds about telemedicine. People who never would have tried telemedicine previously are now using it for the first time.
However, the benefits of telemedicine haven't truly changed. It's always been a convenient and safe option. The pandemic has just made those advantages more apparent. Ourdoctor telemedicine company gives patients the ability to see a doctor for minor health concerns and illnesses such as headaches, sore throats, and fevers.
Patients who've scheduled medical appointments in person have always had to plan those appointments carefully. The appointment itself might only last for 20 minutes. However, in practice, patients have to set aside much more time than that.
Individuals who live in remote areas could be hours away from the nearest doctor's office. Doctors typically tell their patients to get to the office 15 minutes before the actual appointment starts. Patients spend several minutes in the waiting room, filling out various forms. They may contribute an additional 20 minutes waiting before being called back to the room.
Patients can also spend part of the appointment waiting for the doctor or nurse. The most productive part of the appointment itself might only last for 15 minutes. After the appointment, patients still have to drive back home. The patients who use telemedicine instead can complete the entire process at home.
People can schedule their telemedicine appointments online in advance. Scheduling may only take a few minutes to complete. The actual video call appointment might only take 20 minutes. Doctors are also less likely to keep patients waiting as some telemedicine companies such as Ourdoctor allow patients to see the next available physician eliminating waiting for a specific doctor. In practice, telemedicine allows doctors to spend more time with their patients.
Telemedicine video appointments are productive and straightforward. Doctors can make the most out of every session.
The risk of contracting viruses and illnesses from other patients is eliminated. Patients are practicing social distancing by staying at home telemedicine is contributing to everyone visiting safer and bringing the spread of Covid-19 to an end. Telemedicine is much more reliable, healthier, and more convenient.
Telemedicine was nice to have in the past but quickly became a necessity in the wake of the novel COVID-19, pandemic. With all leaders and medical practitioners calling for social distancing to halt the spread of the virus, telehealth emerged as the safest practical solution for delivering healthcare in the affected areas. However, things are getting back to normal, and while post-pandemic will be a relief for many in the healthcare industry, various things are bound to change. In the past, telemedicine was more of a perk that comes alongside primary healthcare services. Today, practitioners can charge for the service, which predicts a future where telemedicine is part of healthcare delivery.
The aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic calls for readjustments that include preparing healthcare facilities for the return of normal operations. For many, telemedicine will still be invaluable, at least until a vaccine is available for the virus. Even then, telemedicine is expected to take root in future healthcare provision. It involves delivering healthcare remotely over the telephone or internet services, such as web conferencing. Disease diagnosis, patient tracking, routine physical examinations, and conversational therapy can be delivered through telehealth, which is cost-effective and time-saving.
For healthcare practitioners, telemedicine provides a necessary tool that minimizes exposure to the virus. It also reduces traffic to the facility. Lending some operations to the online model also comes with the inherent benefits of the internet, ranging from convenience to efficient patient management. The model should allow easy updating of patient information and meet specific standards to ensure safe and seamless healthcare delivery. This calls for training and development of new tools that can facilitate the remote delivery of healthcare.
Telehealth already had massive support before the pandemic and is hardly novel in the industry. However, its necessity was highlighted by the virus, setting the stage to catapult telemedicine to mainstream healthcare provision. Many facilities will be keen to adapt their practices to the online model and incorporates telehealth, which can now be targeted for new income streams for the clinics and hospitals.
Telemedicine emerged as the safest approach to delivering health care in the wake of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Amidst calls for social distancing, the practice offered a reliable canvas for providing healthcare to those that need it while reducing new exposures to the virus. A recent survey also indicates that more practitioners are leaning towards telemedicine in the future. Up to 35% of healthcare workers plan to continue with the practice in the aftermath of the pandemic. For the 1300 physicians that took part in the online survey, 76% expressed concerns over establishing safe environments for their patients when operations are reopened.
All Healthcare Practitioners in Support of Telemedicine
The digital survey was available for healthcare practitioners in different fields, including dermatology, neurology, OB/GYN and pediatrics, oncology, ophthalmology, psychiatry, urology, and primary health care, among others. All practitioners seem to agree on the merits of telemedicine and its usefulness for short-term and long-term healthcare provision. Many believe telemedicine can help with acute disease diagnosis and tracking, chronic disease management, and related information. Telemedicine became invaluable early in 2020 as a way to facilitate healthcare amidst calls for social distancing and promise to demonstrate efficacy in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Adjusting the Healthcare System to Accommodate Telemedicine
Operations are resuming in various regions, and the task for healthcare providers remains to set up a safe environment for patients. For most practitioners, this implies coming up with a framework to identify jobs and services that can be easily lent to the online healthcare model. It is also crucial to retain all other measures to prevent new exposures until a vaccine is available. Oncologists, notably, identified the importance of training healthcare practitioners for the telemedicine field moving forward.
The merits of telemedicine are quite straightforward. However, there are various aspects to ensure the creation of a functional canvas and standards that can be used by practitioners across the world. If recent stats are anything to go by, telemedicine is set for longevity and could become part and parcel of healthcare provision.
Telehealth is a developing area in medical science. As online medical consultations and other remote-care programs continue to spread, they are more likely to shape healthcare delivery. This creates the need for incorporating telemedicine into medical school to ensure pharmacists, nurses, doctors, and other health care staff of tomorrow are well equipped. Ideally, exposure to studies on telehealth practices will benefit not only medical students but also other individuals in the industry.
Since telehealth is an evolving area in medicine, education must be introduced to inform students of the current practice and let medical providers get information for future training. In the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), such programs have been initiated and embedded within a few educational facilities, including its College of Pharmacy, College of Nursing, College of Dental Medicine, among others. When you think about it, education on telemedicine is a low-stakes investment. There are very few programs or platforms that allow medical practitioners to share information with their patients in a value-added way and reduce general healthcare expenditures.
In a survey done in MUSC that consisted of telehealth program participants from the last five years, approximately 86% of the participants considered their abilities to use telemedicine as part of their jobs to be above average. They reported changes in their confidence related to areas of telehealth expertise. They also said that they were in a high position to explain various telehealth practices to their peers.
In the survey, the open-ended responses also revealed that participants gained knowledge beyond the technical skills involved. One answer, for instance, suggested that their focus on cross-practice or cross-disciplinary collaboration had greatly improved. Other responses revealed that programs on telemedicine had increased their awareness of possible new career opportunities. continued educational learning is one of the most important areas of learning for students across different sectors. Telemedicine is indeed the future of healthcare, and incorporating it in medical schools will significantly benefit.