A study conducted by Chia-Chun Chiang, MD, and colleagues shows that telemedicine has enabled care for many patients with headaches during the COVID-19 period. Since March 2020, many health care organizations in the US have canceled optional, nonurgent procedures and clinics in reaction to the COVID-19 emergency. Telemedicine was fast adopted and has now developed into an essential healthcare tool. It reduces the physical and geographic barriers, prevents the spread of the virus, and saves personal protective equipment.
The researchers did an online survey to assess the patients' perspectives regarding headache care using telemedicine throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the desire of patients to continue using telemedicine even after the pandemic ends. The survey had 1172 respondents with a mean age of 45.9 years. Most of the respondents (86.8%) were women.
The survey participants were asked if they utilized telemedicine appointments for their headache problems during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Most patients (57.5%) said yes, while the rest said no. Among those who said no, 56.1% said they did not have a reason for telemedicine visits, while 25.2% reported they did not know about the option. 85.5% of those who said yes used telemedicine for follow-up headache care. The results of the survey exhibited that patients were satisfied with the use of telemedicine for headache treatment. 62.1% reported their experience as very good, and 20.7% said it is good.
The results show that telemedicine offers patients a chance to better control their headache problems without the need to travel and expose themselves to the risk of getting COVID-19.
The researchers also noted various barriers to care that manifested in the study results. Respondents who did not use telemedicine mentioned different reasons, including not being aware of the telemedicine option, utilizing telemedicine but not being provided with the opportunity by their healthcare provider, telemedicine not being covered by insurance, and not having the required technology to connect with providers.
Chiang highlighted various steps to address these challenges. These steps include expanding insurance coverage for telemedicine even after the end of the pandemic and promoting telemedicine so that patients can know it is an available option to them. She also stated that telemedicine is restrained to patients with a reliable internet connection and that internet access is necessary while working to enhance telemedicine headache care.
Covid-19 has profoundly changed our lives. The thought that the person next to you can potentially affect you has exponentially increased everyone's anxiety, thus affecting how people work and interact with each other. This has, however, become a severe challenge when it comes to persons experiencing homelessness. —who basically can't survive without sharing some facilities such as bathing and ablutions.
Because of their increased risk of contracting and spreading the virus, local officials, health care providers, and other service providers have prioritized their care. For impactful and efficient care to this vulnerable group, health care experts have opted to leverage the power of technology. They are now using Telemedicine in providing much-needed help to homeless people.
Telemedicine is currently playing a significant role in providing patients with a convenient and cheap method of consulting clinicians. One most basic form of Telemedicine is telephone communication. This approach has made it easy to deliver much-needed quality health care to vulnerable patients virtually. Telemedicine is a more advanced form of video conferencing, which allows for real-time encounters and viewing of images and patient documents simultaneously.
Years ago, Telemedicine could not be practical for the homeless. However, things have changed, and technology is now accessible to almost everyone. Through the help of various organizations, Telemedicine has made it easier for the homeless to receive better health care. In a partnership announced last year, veterans dealing with homelessness were given the privilege of consulting with caseworkers through telehealth kiosks.
Generally, the homeless community has always had it rough accessing health care services, particularly specialty care such as otolaryngology. Here's what a Chicago-based otolaryngologist had to say.
"I worked as an otolaryngologist at the Chicago Franciscan Outreach shelter for three years. Unfortunately, we only made it there a few days a month to help patients with tonsillitis, sinusitis, hearing loss, ear infections, and thyroid disorders. As such, our impact was limited. The onset of Covid-19 further paralyzed our services, forcing us to prioritize routine screenings.
To help solve the health care crisis within the homeless community, we have decided to partner with Rush University Medical Center and local homeless advocates to launch a virtual care program. Our primary focus is to provide otolaryngology care. The lost will have their ear, nose, and throat issues virtually addressed by a physician from a kiosk. Once in a while, they will get the opportunity for an in-person visit.
From my experience working with underserved communities, the best way to serve the homeless is to bring care to their doorstep. Besides making it easily accessible, it goes a long way in helping them save on the little money they have.
Combining Telemedicine and in-person visits are not limited to only delivering otolaryngology care. The same can be applied to other specialties in medicine across the United States to improve access to health care, cut down the costs involved, reduce the time wasted in delivering services face to face, and effectively care for the people struggling with homelessness."
Here is no doubt that the ongoing COVID19 pandemic has had an impact on our way of life. Doctor and medical appointments are among the typical routines that have been disrupted and gave way to telemedicine. According to Colleen McCormick, the director of sustainability at UC Davis, the popularity and use of telemedicine have grown up to 3000% since the pandemic hit, which has suggested it might be the best way to handle climate change. Let's try and dissect Miss McCormick's statement and see how it might help climate change.
For starters, the number of patients' visits to hospitals in 2019 was 122 million. This number includes both light and life-threatening health conditions. It also takes into account the dentist appointments. 2019 registered the highest number of hospital visits in the 2010s decade.
Due to social distancing and 'stay at home' initiatives to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus, the number of hospital visits has significantly dropped by 32%. The figure has remained constant for the non-COVID hospital admissions.
The reduced number of hospital visits and the inclusion of telemedicine has eliminated a need to drive to and from the hospital, according to Peter Yellowless of UC Davis, which has contributed to a 10% reduction in carbon emission. That's a lot of carbon emission reduction, where the US healthcare systems are among the most pollutant sectors worldwide.
Given the advancements made in the technology sectors and the willingness of the healthcare sectors to adopt these technologies, it has resulted in telemedicine aiding in the following ways:
- Non-physical follow-up appointments
- basic consultations
- improving comfort and convenience of patients and doctors through virtual visits
- helped to keep people safe in their homes, hence curbing the spread of COVID19
Other than reducing carbon emission through reduced driving, patients can save money, with millions of dollars that would have been spent on fuel since the pandemic started being saved or included in other expenditures.
The only hope is for healthcare facilities and patients to keep using telemedicine post-pandemic to keep the current changes permanent and improve.
Routinely, Veterans have been making regular visits to their doctors either for yearly exams, follow-up visits, treatment of chronic illnesses, getting test results, or trips to the urgent care for sudden illnesses or injuries. Even though Veterans being able to go to the doctor by themselves has been seen as a beneficial thing, it turns out that telehealth could be exponentially better. Allowing our Veterans the ability to connect with their VA care team from their home, clinic or hospital provides additional benefits that were only dreamt of.
1. Quality of life
Allowing Veterans the ability to visit their doctor from the comfort of their own home is a highly beneficial thing for any individual. Whether they want to save money on gas, don't have a mode of transportation, or have a lot of medical equipment needed to travel with them, having the ability to communicate with their doctors from home creates more solutions than thought possible. Those that have argued the trip to see their doctor simply for test results was a waste of time, money, and gas.
As most of our Veterans are aging, their needs increase for supported transportation. Some individuals may have to have another person drive them, or they need to use the city bus; however, not every Veteran has these alternative modes of transportation. If their vision is failing, but no one has the ability to drive with them to the appointment, that individual may have to drive. This causes a clear safety issue not only for the Veteran but for the other people on the roads.
3. Comfort and Privacy
It is commonly seen as embarrassing to go see your doctor when you have a mental health illness suddenly strike. Being able to see your doctor for any mental health illnesses from your home provides the protection and seclusion that many people are needing when they have issues arise. Not only this, but it will make patients experiencing severe psychotic episodes the ability to see a provider immediately instead of having to travel somewhere and wait in the reception hall. Not only this, but Veterans have access to real-time, interactive video visits with therapists.
As you can clearly see, telehealth has provided Veterans phenomenal opportunities to receive the same quality of care they have now in their own home. This it allows for the ability for Veterans to join more group visits for mental health care, nutrition education, rehabilitation, and general health education. This allows more people the option to reduce potential social isolation.
For more information visit Ourdoctor.com to sign up and schedule your first telehealth visit.
The pandemic has created a society of video chats for the main source of communication, and some workers in the mental health industry are certain this culture is here to stay. Due to hospitals only being able to accept emergency cases, close to 100% of mental health care became remote during the height of the pandemic, according to the director of ambulatory services at Ohio State Harding Hospital.
What this means for the future is that patients will be able to decide whether they would prefer in-patient consults or to receive them via telehealth. With the technology available today, patients have experienced the same level of care that they would have received as an in-patient.
Even the previous intensive outpatient program, a strict three to the four-week program at Ohio State Harding Hospital, now gets held over Zoom. Potentially there could even be a future for telemedicine due to the massive success of telehealth in the last year.
When the pandemic started, patients were wary of using telehealth services for physical conditions, and most telehealth patients made use of the services. This was illustrated in a recent study from mid-March to early May 2020 published by RAND Corp, where 53.6% opted for treatment via telehealth compared to the 43.2% of patients with a physical condition using telehealth during that same timespan.
Telehealth services have also increased the rates of patients keeping their appointments as they are easier to attend due to the flexibility of attending the meetings, however like all things, there are a couple of downfalls to the program as not all age groups fall into the demographic of being able to use Video Chats and body language has also been raised as a concern when consulting over a call instead of in person. Reliable internet and having the privacy to talk openly are also issues raised when needing to use telehealth services instead of an in-person consultation.
As the world slowly starts to go back to normal and in-patient consultations have started up again, telehealth services have proven to be a crucial and needed solution for the future. Most medical institutes will offer a range of both to allow the patient to choose what suits them best.
Hereditary diseases are disorders that run in the family, and most are not cured. They are passed from parents to a child through defective genes. The transmission happens through chromosomes. One such condition is Cystic fibrosis (CF).
Cystic fibrosis affects the digestive system and the lungs producing a thick mucus that clogs the lungs and obstructs the pancreas. This life-threatening disorder is a significant concern for many, especially with the current COVID-19 pandemic. CF patients are at more risk because of coronavirus complications, and extra care is needed to manage the condition.
Such delicate situations require you to stay at home to avoid unnecessary exposure. Currently, telehealth is a reliable way for CF management. Telehealth integrates digital technology in healthcare communication through mobile apps, text messages, videoconferencing, and emails.
In the wake of the global pandemic, telehealth has proven to be effective in managing CF patients. It provides a safe environment for the medical team and patients to receive and offer healthcare.
Telehealth is essential and convenient when utilized to :
- Inquire about prescription refills and medication schedule
- Taking a virtual exercise routine
- Reporting new but non-urgent symptoms
- Bringing to therapists, doctors, and others
However, for medical exams requiring lab samples, this technology is not reliable. Also, remember to call the emergency room immediately whenever you experience sudden severe symptoms such as increased drowsiness, severe breathing difficulties, non-stop wheezing and coughing, the appearance of blue lips or fingers, and blood streaks in mucus.
Advantages of Telehealth in CF
Telehealth offers medical options that reduce safety concerns like social distance associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. It also reduces the burden linked to CF care which is time-consuming and intense.
This technology allows doctors to attend to patients remotely where a physical visit is difficult or risky.
Some of the most common challenges include unstable connectivity due to reliance on digital signals, insurance coverage options available for you, differing adherence levels in patients, and others.
However, telehealth remains reliable in CF management during the pandemic.
While telehealth has always existed, this is much like saying that Zoom always existed. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, providers have ramped up the availability of telehealth to an extent far more significant than before. For that matter, many people have gotten their first experience with receiving medical care from home. While some may feel skeptical about it, people should be excited. If you have a chronic pain condition such as arthritis, telehealth can significantly benefit your health and wellness.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth is a set of medical services that revolve around phone calls and other forms of remote communication, such as video calls. While telehealth cannot replace the traditional doctor's visit for those with arthritis, it has a great deal to offer people with arthritis.
Benefits of Telehealth for Arthritis
There are many occasions where telehealth can be helpful for people who have arthritis. Some of the situations where it's a good choice include, but are not limited to;
- You're experiencing a severe episode of pain that makes travel difficult
- A quick checkup before deciding whether or not to visit the doctor in person, saving time and money
- Followup check-ins to assess how you're doing in the days or weeks following an appointment
- Keeping in close contact with your doctor when frequent visits aren't practical
But even more than these benefits, the original reason for the rise of telehealth may be the most important right now. When people can receive medical care from the comfort and safety of the home, it reduces the risks of virus exposure to the doctor, patient, and other patients.
While telehealth may seem like something strange to adapt to, it has the potential to help reduce the spread of COVID while improving the quality of life for those with chronic pain.
The pandemic has introduced a majority of the public to remote versions of their everyday tasks. School is online, work is done in the home office, and doctor's appointments are phone calls or video meetings. If you're one of the thousands of people that have embraced this new remote life, you may have trouble sustaining it with your doctor.
Loss of Accommodations
Telehealth was once just an idea with few groups fitting into the category of "Telehealth is better than in-person appointments for this patient." As such, telehealth visits saw lower reimbursement amounts from claims. This was changed when the pandemic started, and telehealth received the same treatment as physical visits regarding coverage.
Another pain point for patients and doctors alike is privacy concerns. This isn't unique to the medical field; financial institutions and research facilities have all had to adjust the strictness of data collection. Telehealth is only as secure as the connection between each screen and the environment you're in during the session.
Where Telehealth May Remain the Standard
you may be wondering if it will still be available even at a slightly higher cost. The answer is a resounding "most likely." Many mental health patients have found telehealth is better for visits as it can reduce anxiety being in a comfortable space.
Consultations are another area that fits well into telehealth. The non-physical symptom can be described to the doctor, and with some probing questions, an initial idea of the problem can be formed. This lets the doctor determine if an in-person appointment is necessary for the examination. If not, a prescription can be filled, or you may have a quick stop at a clinic for testing instead of a complete doctor visit.
In any case, telehealth isn't going anywhere, As time goes on, telehealth visits will continue to improve and virtual health visits will be the norm.