|The COVID-19 pandemic forced medical providers to change the way they offer care to patients. The government issued social distancing health guidelines to limit contact to ensure the virus’s spread was curtailed. Now, healthcare providers prefer virtual appointments to in-office visitations. We are currently in the coronavirus tidal wave, and more patients are going back to one-on-one visitations to the doctor’s office. Still, experts say that virtual meetings with doctors are here to stay.|
Various health surveillance reports have indicated high patient
satisfaction with online doctor appointments. For instance, patients have realized that virtualization of medical appointments allows them to get healthcare services from the comfort of their homes, saving them both time and money. Additionally, it also alleviates workplace absenteeism.
Following the increasing popularity of virtual care, there have been changes in Medicare Health Plans to cater to doctors’ and patients’ needs during the pandemic. For instance, health policy providers must pay doctors who leverage telemedicine the same amount as physical appointments. Furthermore, cost-sharing among patients should not be more than in-person visits.
How Telemedicine Works
Established telemedicine companies such as Ourdoctor, use their virtual platforms to conduct online appointments. Others use publicly available software apps that include Zoom, FaceTime, and Skype. Both the doctor and patient must have access to a laptop, PC, or a smart device, although a high-resolution smartphone would suffice.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Telemedicine
Telemedicine is most effective when you need urgent care services, such as flu-like symptoms or minor injuries. Moreover, the virtualization of doctor visits makes it easy for healthcare providers to offer post-surgical care. That comes as good news to patients with limited mobility, eliminating the need to go through the hassle of heading to the physician’s office.
It is worth noting that virtual medical appointments are not applicable in every situation. Medical cases regarding acute respiratory complications or drug overdose require patients to go to the emergency room as quickly as possible. Additionally, virtual visits also limit the doctor when physical examinations are required.
On the other hand, face-to-face appointments are appropriate for pediatric care because babies and children require vaccinations and immunizations. The doctor can better monitor their growth and development in a physical office setting. Overall, telemedicine is keeping patients safe by not having them be exposed to others in a doctor’s office. Depending on the severity of your issue, you can use telemedicine to determine whether your condition requires in-office care or can be treated through telemedicine.
|To encourage Americans to stay at home during a pandemic, many health insurance providers began covering the copayment for Telehealth appointments. Through virtual meetings, insurance companies hoped this financial incentive would reduce volume and stress on healthcare workers. This decision proved useful. Over the summer, Telehealth appointments skyrocketed more than 13%.|
However, insurance companies intend to reinstate copay charges for Telehealth appointments. Starting October 1, UnitedHealthCare and Anthem began collecting copays for Telehealth appointments. Copayments will be the same as an in-person appointment. Doctors are aware of their patient’s hesitance to Telehealth. Many, such as urologist Dr. Chad Ellimoottil, wear their white coats to all Telehealth appointments.
While there are physical limitations to Telehealth appointments, Doctors wear their coats to assure their patients of professional treatment. They want patients to know that a Telehealth appointment is as necessary as an in-person appointment. With copays, patients will be even more skeptical of Telehealth appointments.
The lack of copays provided a critical financial incentive for patients in need of routine checkups. According to Harvard Medical School, Professor Ateev Mehrotra, in-person doctor’s visits reduced 60% since the beginning of the pandemic.
Many doctors are hopeful that patients who need in-patient care will feel more confident about making in-person doctor’s appointments without a financial incentive. Many patients who desperately needed care feared the doctor’s office during the pandemic.
Furthermore, many patients made appointments for minor injuries of ailments without a copay where they would otherwise not consult a doctor. This put a financial incentive on insurance companies to require copays again.
However, health care professionals worry that copays create another financial burden for patients. With a recession, doctors do not want patients to choose between physical health and further financial distress.
In the event that the patient cannot afford the copay that their insurance companies are charging, telemedicine companies such as Ourdoctor do not require a high copay. Instead, patients only have to pay a one-time visit fee. This is a more affordable method of receiving non- urgent care from a physician that does not require insurance.
Top Reasons Why Telemedicine Isn’t Going Anywhere
Over the past months, COVID-19 has impacted telehealth and the entire medical field. Telehealth is not a new concept. Telehealth has been around since 1879, and in 1925, diagnosing patients by telephone had become more popular within the realm of medicine. Yet, there are multiple questions gaining traction recently. A couple of them are, “will telehealth evolve into a more modern system?” The second question being Is telehealth here to stay indefinitely?”
The fact that technology improves over time is indubitable. When looking at the innovations that have taken place recently, we can see that one of the determinantes that influence telemedicine is technology. This impact (and as the general field of technology, biotechnology, and science) will help telemedicine evolve and stay for the long term into the distant future. For doctors and nurse practitioners to be the most effective, telemedicine is primary healthcare now. IT is a fundamental tool for healthcare during this pandemic and has changed the way people commonly see healthcare.
Access to Healthcare
Access to healthcare is a fundamental concept that should make health equity streamlined and work for all people. To be specific, people that live in an urban setting should have access to healthcare without being unnecessarily exposed to COVID-19 while waiting to see a medical practitioner.
For individuals and families that live in rural settings. Additionally, telemedicine will make healthcare available for anyone living in a rural area. A doctor’s visit can is simply, a consultation away via Smartphone or computer when telemedicine becomes primary healthcare.
Can’t afford Insurance
In the event that an individual cannot afford health insurance or Medicare, Telemedicine is an affordable option since patients can purchase individual visits using Ourdoctor telemedicine services. There are also family plan options for those who have family members that need to see a doctor. Telemedicine is a great option for all, as its affordability and convenience is the future of medicine.
Artificial Intelligence in healthcare is no longer restricted to research labs alone. It has also improved many telemedicine aspects revolving around broadband technology and electronic data to assist and coordinate remote healthcare services. AI takes over the whole chain of clinical practice and patient-focused care by providing models of care and sustenance. AI can be benefical in the following ways.
Analyzing medical records and other data
One of the healthcare’s primary goals is to collect and analyze data, including medical records and history. AI conducts data management and digital automation to provide more reliable access.
Automation of manual, repetitive tasks
The cardiology and radiology departments rely on AI to analyze tests, conduct x-rays, CT scans and carry out other tasks. In the future, both departments will only focus on handling emergency and complicated cases where manual tasks need supervision.
Healthcare providers can diagnose, treat, and monitor their patient’s progress without making physical visits. The initiative relies on machine learning to provide support for patients with chronic conditions. Various apps containing necessary health information and medical advice will help parents living with sick children and other people looking out for their loved ones’ well-being.
Through a smartphone’s webcam, physicians can verify whether they are taking their medications and assist them in monitoring their progress. People with complicated medical conditions, defiant patients that go against their doctor’s advice, and clinicians participating in trials are the primary beneficiaries of the AI autonomous service.
AI-led Telemedicine can revolutionize Telehealth applications.
patients scheduling in person visits at a clinic is a chore of the past to find help to their problems. By creating automation, AI can transform healthcare and help handle some of the applications set out above. By looking at the multitude of tasks that AI can complete through the realm of telemedicine it is without a doubt that AI is not only innovative in medicine, but will soon become a requirement as our society is evolving.
While the global community may view the COVID-19 pandemic as a worldwide social, economic, and political impasse, the telemedicine system thinks of it as a blessing in disguise. Since the first case reported, medical providers across America have had to devise real-time remote access methods to attend to patients despite not meeting one-on-one to contain the spread. Now more than ever, telepathic medicine is proving to be the best thing to happen to both caregivers and patients alike.
A while ago, the Trump administration decided to lift the ban on legislative and regulatory restrictions to increase remote medical care. While its design reduces medical and mental services costs to increase patient satisfaction, the pandemic’s adverse effects on US citizens have caused the administration to improve telehealth. But will telemedicine be sustainable even after the epidemic, or will the regulatory restrictions be reinstated?
What it takes for telemedicine to thrive even after the pandemic
Telepath medicine is a complex initiative that can only thrive when specific conditions are taken into consideration. Since more than 18 million Americans lack access to high-speed broadband, the vulnerable populations may not benefit from telemedicine. Therefore, telepathic sessions can only be successful aspects such as high-speed internet between patients and providers need to be on their top priority.
They should also train patients on how to operate specific apps to access their caregivers. Again new fraud detection methods must come into play to uphold patient-doctor confidentiality. And since minorities are more susceptible to the virus and deaths, adoptions of such policies could be their only chance of survival.
Telemedicine is significant in filling the gap between the poor and the wealthy. People living with chronic infections, including diabetes, asthma, bronchitis, and many others, can benefit from the Coronavirus Aid, Relied, and Economic Security. The bottom line is that the COVID-19 telehealth program will address all Americans’ medical needs regardless of their age, gender, socio-economic statuses, and religion.
Telehealth is on the rise in popularity due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Telemedicine, telehealth, and overall remote patient monitoring force healthcare services to be delivered without the patient’s physical presence at a healthcare facility. Due to these forced changes and new economy oversights, the face of healthcare and its operators are drastically changing.
A Shift In Healthcare Services
As Livestream video demand increases, brick-and-mortar facilities could be facing trouble in the future. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals who required routine and non-critical needs were guided to make appointments using hyperlinks. Although the current healthcare shift is convenient, that does not necessarily mean the present circumstances are better.
Some of the good news is patients do not have to wait for months to be seen by appointment, and the need to stay in overcrowded waiting rooms is no longer an issue. While patients are excited about these changes, reality sets in when individuals realize, their co-pays remain the same.
Driving Change Is A Necessity
To get a general idea of where current healthcare is headed, look back at what happened during the Tuberculosis Care starting from 1980 to 2020. The ’90s were the days of wall-mounted vides phones to make the need for treatment and care more accessible and more convenient. With more innovative technology, such as FaceTime and Skype, different healthcare security standards were achieved.
Increase of Healthtech Investments
Although many of these healthcare changes make receiving it more convenient, this does not mean all types of healthcare will be delivered through technology only. Using innovative technology to drive effective and efficient delivery of healthcare services, Heal reinvents the primary care house call.
Impact on Most Businesses
Due to the current healthcare changes, every business is a healthcare business, which means companies need to expect yet another shift in employee-funded programs.
Changing for the Better
While most of these changes are great, the changes are not happening quickly enough for everyone to benefit, including high-risk patients, including patients who have depression, immunocompromised organ transplant recipients, addiction, pediatric asthma, and similar conditions. We can only hope and wish the COVID-19 pandemic dissipates, but all of the tremendous changes and growth in healthcare remain the same.
As people seek to heed the call to stay home and abate COVID-19, telemedicine’s role in providing healthcare for children can become apparent. Telehealth enables parents to seek healthcare services for their children without necessarily making physical visits for face-to-face services. Through these virtual visits, pediatricians can perform some tests, treatments, and, where necessary, refer patients for more advanced care.
How Does Telemedicine Work?
To employ this technology, both the patient and doctor must have compelling video and audio sources. This means that telemedicine visits can be carried out over any device that has a webcam. Therefore, telephones, laptops, and computers can be used. To further enhance telemedicine visit effectiveness, there should be minimal or no distractions. The room where the child is should be well lit and private. A parent should also be within if the doctor needs help conducting a physical assessment on the child.
Are There Cases When Telemedicine is Not Suitable?
There is increased support for telemedicine in delivering patient care not only because of the risks caused by COVID-19 but also because this approach to healthcare delivery has proven viable for the future. Therefore, where suitable, available, and appropriate, pediatricians use telemedicine visits to guarantee continued care access. However, parents should note that if their child has alarming symptoms such as high fevers in infants or experiencing difficulty breathing, a face-to-face visit is essential. Physical visits should also be made if a child requires more detailed testing and exam than virtual visits.
What Should a Parent Consider?
If a parent needs to shift to telemedicine for their child’s healthcare service, they should, first, confirm with their pediatrician about the availability of such services. The pediatrician will also advise whether a virtual visit is a good idea for different children since they know their patients’ (children) health history. If a parent seeks virtual visit services from a new doctor, it is essential to cross-check the examiner’s accreditations, qualifications, and credentials. As technology permeates our lives in dimensions previously unfathomable, it has and will continue to transform child healthcare delivery through telemedicine.
THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC has caught players in the medical field by surprise. Many neurologists, have seen variously suspected and COVID-19 patients complain of new or escalating headaches. Luckily, telemedicine has received a boost from private insurers, federal and state laws that enable neurologists to handle patients using telemedicine. Before the emergence of coronavirus, neurologists could only use telemedicine to treat people who had a stroke or live in rural areas. Before the emergence of the virus, many neurologists were reluctant to adopt telemedicine in my practice since they thought it would not have a better experience than an in-person encounter with a patient. Many neurologists are now convinced that this is the future of modern medicine.
Here’s why: Patients who live in far-flung areas with few specialists can now access quality care. Most patients who suffer from chronic migraines and prefer telemedicine than having to walk into the clinic. Research has shown that telemedicine is as useful as in-person visits and is cost-effective.
Some medical institutions and practices might experience a challenge due to cost limitations and electronic records not being integrated. Multistate providers may also suffer from a lack of standard policies among states.
Due to the rising cases of infections and fatalities from the disease, it is critical to enact telemedicine laws. This will enable patients who have exhausted their sick days to receive medical care without missing work.
Today, many essential workers, including nurses, teachers, and police officers, have to be at home to care for their children. African Americans, Hispanics, and others with low socioeconomic statuses, already suffering from persistent health inequalities, may be disproportionately burdened by lost work time due to coronavirus.
It is estimated that virtual health care services will hit 1 billion by the end of 2020. Significant investment in time and resources are being made in harnessing the power of telemedicine in clinical services. The management of chronic diseases and future pandemics will be revolutionized by legislation that supports the use of telemedicine into the future, including the Helping Ensure Access to Local TeleHealth Act of 2020.
While the shift to telemedicine was already happening in some healthcare areas in the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated that shift, revolutionizing healthcare practitioners practice medicine. This change to telemedicine has quickly become routine and not likely to return to how it was during pre-pandemic times. One of those fields of healthcare embracing telemedicine in the field of eye care.
How Eyecare is Embracing Telemedicine
When you think of eye care, it’s not easy to see how that particular healthcare field can take care of its patients through telemedicine, especially with eye tests, placing your chin on a pad, and looking through lenses while the doctor tests your vision. These days, it’s possible to perform vision screenings on mobile devices, such as retinal imaging, and monitor eye health.
Another change the telemedicine provides is that patients and doctors can communicate asynchronously. These changes mean the patient doesn’t have to take time off work to speak with their eye doctor.
Remote Eye Care Enhances In-Person Care
Naturally, there will be times when remote eye care is not an option, and the patient will have to see their provider in-person, such as specific tests and the need for hands-on diagnostic testing and procedures. Ocular telemedicine isn’t a replacement for in-person care but only serves to enhance the field of eye care and make things easier for both the patient and the provider. Since it’s possible to perform vision screenings on mobile devices, the patient no longer needs to spend time at their provider’s office.
Policy Changes Make Ocular Telemedicine Simpler
The COVID-19 pandemic forced those who provide health insurance to improve their telemedicine reimbursement policies. These changes broaden access to Medicare telemedicine, as well as a broader range of services. There’s also new legislation regarding maintenance and improvements to the telehealth system, making it more accessible. There are also signs that these changes in the telehealth system will stay even after the pandemic ends.
According to a poll conducted by the University of Michigan on healthy aging, people are becoming more confident in telemedicine. In the past year, older adults revealed at least one primary concern about using telemedicine. A year later, in mid-2020, the situation is different, with many people being free to try out telehealth visits.
This is especially among those that did virtual visits between March and June this year. Ironically, even in the current coronavirus pandemic, not all older adults see telehealthcare as a sufficient substitute for in-person care. According to the poll, 17% of those aged above 50 years say they have never tried any video conference tool, including telehealthcare.
As much as the figure is 11% higher than that recorded in 2019, lack of access or experience could hinder receiving medical care without leaving homes. This happens amidst the rising number of coronavirus cases in the US. According to Lorraine Buis, a health information researcher at the University of Michigan, the poll results implicates health providers that have been drumming up support for telehealth offerings.
She further said that tracking the course of change over time could be critical in determining future efforts and underscores the need for extensive research on barriers, concerns, and the use of telemedicine by the elderly.
Telehealth Acceptance Among the Elderly
The poll results showed that by June 2020, 30% of the older people above 50 years have participated in a telemedicine visit. This has been looked at as a reflection of changes made in the insurance coverage a few months before the pandemic. The figures from March to June indicate that many individuals tried out telehealthcare due to states mandating reductions in non-emergency and elective health care.
The subsequent coronavirus related restrictions also played a role in the significant increase in telehealth visits. The stay-at-home orders, in particular, led to many people trying out telemedicine care.